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Is the positional bias an artefact? Distinguishing positional concerns from egalitarian concerns

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  • Celse, Jérémy

Abstract

This paper shows that the positional bias underscored by Solnick and Hemenway (1998, 2005, 2007) is an experimental artifact. Quoted authors highlighted the importance of positional concerns by finding that people prefer to earn a fewer absolute amount of income but to earn a higher income than others. Why do people prefer to earn more than others? The proposed explanation is that people have a preference for status. This conclusion might be wrong due to their particular design. We conjecture that subjects, by indicating to prefer a state of the world in which they earn more than others, in reality signal a preference for equality. We replicated the same design as in Solnick and Hemenway (1998, 2005, 2007) and added a new option so as to disentangle positional concerns from egalitarian ones. We observe that most subjects express egalitarian preferences rather than positional ones.

Suggested Citation

  • Celse, Jérémy, 2012. "Is the positional bias an artefact? Distinguishing positional concerns from egalitarian concerns," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 277-283.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:41:y:2012:i:3:p:277-283
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2012.01.002
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1362-x is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Celse, Jérémy & Galia, Fabrice & Max, Sylvain, 2017. "Are (negative) emotions to blame for being positional? An experimental investigation of the impact of emotional states on status preferences," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 122-130.
    3. El Harbi, Sana & Bekir, Insaf & Grolleau, Gilles & Sutan, Angela, 2015. "Efficiency, equality, positionality: What do people maximize? Experimental vs. hypothetical evidence from Tunisia," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 77-84.
    4. S. Wouters & N. Exel & M. Donk & K. Rohde & W. Brouwer, 2015. "Do people desire to be healthier than other people? A short note on positional concerns for health," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 16(1), pages 47-54, January.
    5. Grolleau, Gilles & Ibanez, Lisette & Mzoughi, Naoufel, 2012. "Being the best or doing the right thing? An investigation of positional, prosocial and conformist preferences in provision of public goods," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(5), pages 705-711.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Relative standing; Positional concern; Egalitarian concern; Envy; Status; Survey;

    JEL classification:

    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

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