IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Parameters of social preference functions: measurement and external validity

  • Christoph Graf


  • Rudolf Vetschera


  • Yingchao Zhang


Registered author(s):

    Most of the existing literature on social preferences either tests whether certain characteristics of the social context (like intentions of others) influence individual decisions, or tries to estimate parameters of social preference functions describing such behavior at the level of the entire population. In the present paper, we are concerned with measuring parameters of social preference functions at the individual level. We draw upon concepts developed for eliciting other types of utility functions, in particular the literature on decision making under incomplete information. Our method derives parameters of social preference functions from indifference statements about the distribution of payoffs a group. We apply our method in a controlled social preference experiment to establish the external validity of estimated parameters. Our results show the expected relationships to some external factors (like educational background of subjects) and also a strong correspondence between parameter estimates and factors that, according to the subjects’ own descriptions, influenced their behavior. We also find that some concepts discussed in the literature on social preferences, in particular envy toward players receiving a larger payoff, have very diverse and complex effects at the individual level. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by Springer in its journal Theory and Decision.

    Volume (Year): 74 (2013)
    Issue (Month): 3 (March)
    Pages: 357-382

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:kap:theord:v:74:y:2013:i:3:p:357-382
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

    as in new window
    1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    2. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "On the Nature of Fair Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 2984, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. Park, Kyung Sam & Kim, Soung Hie, 1997. "Tools for interactive multiattribute decisionmaking with incompletely identified information," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 111-123, April.
    4. John Kagel & Katherine Wolfe, 2001. "Tests of Fairness Models Based on Equity Considerations in a Three-Person Ultimatum Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 203-219, December.
    5. 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.
    6. BOUS, Géraldine & FORTEMPS, Philippe & GLINEUR, François & PIRLOT, Marc, . "ACUTA: a novel method for eliciting additive value functions on the basis of holistic preference statements," CORE Discussion Papers RP 2243, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
    7. Mobius, Markus & Do, Quoc-Anh & Leider, Stephen & Rosenblat, Tanya, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," Scholarly Articles 3054685, Harvard University Department of Economics.
    8. Ottone, Stefania & Ponzano, Ferruccio, 2005. "An Extension to the Model of Inequity Aversion by Fehr and Schmidt," POLIS Working Papers 51, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
    9. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative income, happiness, and utility: An explanation for the Easterlin paradox and other puzzles," Post-Print halshs-00754299, HAL.
    10. Brañas Garza, Pablo & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Cobo Reyes, Ramón & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni, 2006. "Altruism in the (Social) Network," DFAEII Working Papers 2006-04, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
      • Kovarik, Jaromir & Jiménez, Natalia & Ponti, Giovanni & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Cobo Reyes, Ramón, 2009. "Altruism and Social Integration," IKERLANAK 2009-35, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    11. Binmore, Ken & Shaked, Avner, 2010. "Experimental Economics: Where Next? Rejoinder," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 120-121, January.
    12. Engelmann Dirk & Strobel Martin, 2002. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
    13. Selten, Reinhard & Ockenfels, Axel, 1998. "An experimental solidarity game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 517-539, March.
    14. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2009. "On Inequity Aversion - A Reply to Binmore and Shaked," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 256, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    15. 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.
    16. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    17. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1815-1851.
    18. Doumpos, Michael & Zopounidis, Constantin, 2004. "Developing sorting models using preference disaggregation analysis: An experimental investigation," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 154(3), pages 585-598, May.
    19. Chris Starmer, 2000. "Developments in Non-expected Utility Theory: The Hunt for a Descriptive Theory of Choice under Risk," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 38(2), pages 332-382, June.
    20. Binmore, Ken & Shaked, Avner, 2010. "Experimental economics: Where next?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 87-100, January.
    21. Greco, Salvatore & Mousseau, Vincent & Slowinski, Roman, 2008. "Ordinal regression revisited: Multiple criteria ranking using a set of additive value functions," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 191(2), pages 416-436, December.
    22. Albert O. Hirschman & Michael Rothschild, 1973. "The Changing Tolerance for Income Inequality in the Course of Economic DevelopmentWith A Mathematical Appendix," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(4), pages 544-566.
    23. Zopounidis, Constantin & Doumpos, Michael, 1999. "A Multicriteria Decision Aid Methodology for Sorting Decision Problems: The Case of Financial Distress," Computational Economics, Society for Computational Economics, vol. 14(3), pages 197-218, December.
    24. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    25. Christopher Schwand & Rudolf Vetschera & Lea Wakolbinger, 2010. "The influence of probabilities on the response mode bias in utility elicitation," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 69(3), pages 395-416, September.
    26. Katharina J. Srnka & Sabine t. Koeszegi, 2007. "From Words to Numbers: How to Transform Qualitative Data into Meaningful Quantitative Results," Schmalenbach Business Review (sbr), LMU Munich School of Management, vol. 59(1), pages 29-57, January.
    27. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
    28. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    29. Beuthe, Michel & Scannella, Giuseppe, 2001. "Comparative analysis of UTA multicriteria methods," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 130(2), pages 246-262, April.
    30. Daruvala, Dinky, 2010. "Would the right social preference model please stand up!," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 199-208, February.
    31. Weber, Martin, 1987. "Decision making with incomplete information," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 44-57, January.
    32. Teck-Hua Ho & Xuanming Su, 2009. "Peer-Induced Fairness in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2022-49, December.
    33. Yan Chen & Sherry Xin Li, 2009. "Group Identity and Social Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 431-57, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:theord:v:74:y:2013:i:3:p:357-382. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

    or (Christopher F. Baum)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.