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How much do others matter? Explaining positional concerns for different goods and personal characteristics

  • Hillesheim, Inga
  • Mechtel, Mario

We test concerns for relative standing with respect to private consumption, income, leisure, savings, and personal characteristics, using data from a classroom survey. Our results show highest degrees of positionality for personal characteristics and income. In order to explain positionality, we employ survey participants’ ratings of items with respect to (i) observability and (ii) non-psychological negative externalities on others. Based on these ratings, our results show that non-psychological externalities play an important role for an item’s degree of positionality. In contrast to previous research, we find that there is no statistically significant effect of an item’s observability on its degree of positionality.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 34 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 61-77

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Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:34:y:2013:i:c:p:61-77
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

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  8. Carlsson, Fredrik & Qin, Ping, 2010. "It is better to be the head of a chicken than the tail of a phoenix: Concern for relative standing in rural China," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 39(2), pages 180-186, April.
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  17. Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2003. "Do You Enjoy Having More Than Others? Survey Evidence of Positional Goods," Working Papers in Economics 100, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  18. Daniel J. Benjamin & Ori Heffetz & Miles S. Kimball & Alex Rees-Jones, 2012. "What Do You Think Would Make You Happier? What Do You Think You Would Choose?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2083-2110, August.
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