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Fairness, errors and the power of competition

  • Fischbacher, Urs
  • Fong, Christina M.
  • Fehr, Ernst

In this paper, we investigate the effects of competition on bargained outcomes. We show that the neglect of either fairness concerns or decision errors will prevent a satisfactory understanding of how competition affects bargaining. We conducted experiments which demonstrate that introducing a small amount of competition to a bilateral ultimatum game - by adding just one competitor - induces large behavioral changes among responders and proposers, causing large changes in accepted offers. Models that assume that all people are self-interested and fully rational do not adequately explain these changes. We show that a model which combines heterogeneous fairness concerns with decision errors correctly predicts the comparative static effects of changes in competition. Moreover, the combined model is remarkably good at predicting the entire distribution of offers in many different competitive situations.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 72 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 527-545

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:72:y:2009:i:1:p:527-545
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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  1. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  3. Philip A. Haile & Ali Hortacsu & Grigory Kosenok, 2004. "On the Empirical Content of Quantal Response Equilibrium," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm421, Yale School of Management.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Armin Falk, 2003. "Wage Rigidity in a Competitive Incomplete Contract Market," Labor and Demography 0305001, EconWPA.
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  6. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  7. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  18. Colin Camerer & Teck-Hua Ho, 1999. "Experience-weighted Attraction Learning in Normal Form Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 827-874, July.
  19. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 2000. "Asymmetric inequality aversion and noisy behavior in alternating-offer bargaining games," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1079-1089, May.
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  21. Brit Grosskopf, 2003. "Reinforcement and Directional Learning in the Ultimatum Game with Responder Competition," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(2), pages 141-158, October.
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  25. Colin F. Camerer & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Anomalies: Ultimatums, Dictators and Manners," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-219, Spring.
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