IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/oup/jeurec/v14y2016i3p608-638..html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Norms Make Preferences Social

Author

Listed:
  • Erik O. Kimbrough
  • Alexander Vostroknutov

Abstract

We explore the idea that prosocial behavior in experimental games is driven by social norms imported into the laboratory. Under this view, differences in behavior across subjects is driven by heterogeneity in sensitivity to social norms. We introduce an incentivized method of eliciting individual norm-sensitivity, and we show how it relates to play in public goods, trust, dictator, and ultimatum games. We show how our observations can be rationalized in a stylized model of norm-dependent preferences under reasonable assumptions about the nature of social norms. Then we directly elicit norms in these games to test the robustness of our interpretation.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik O. Kimbrough & Alexander Vostroknutov, 2016. "Norms Make Preferences Social," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 608-638.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jeurec:v:14:y:2016:i:3:p:608-638.
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1111/jeea.12152
    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 below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
    2. Johnson, Noel D. & Mislin, Alexandra A., 2011. "Trust games: A meta-analysis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 865-889.
    3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    4. Michael Kosfeld & Akira Okada & Arno Riedl, 2009. "Institution Formation in Public Goods Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1335-1355, September.
    5. James Andreoni, 1995. "Warm-Glow versus Cold-Prickle: The Effects of Positive and Negative Framing on Cooperation in Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-21.
    6. 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.
    7. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
    8. Mark Granovetter, 2005. "The Impact of Social Structure on Economic Outcomes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(1), pages 33-50, Winter.
    9. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2008. "Testing theories of fairness--Intentions matter," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 287-303, January.
    10. Burks, Stephen V. & Carpenter, Jeffrey P. & Verhoogen, Eric, 2003. "Playing both roles in the trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 195-216, June.
    11. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-660, June.
    12. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    13. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
    14. Burnham, Terence & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L., 2000. "Friend-or-foe intentionality priming in an extensive form trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 57-73, September.
    15. McCabe, Kevin & Houser, Daniel & Ryan, Lee & Smith, Vernon & Trouard, Ted, 2001. "A Functional Imaging Study of Cooperation in Two-Person reciprocal Exchange," MPRA Paper 5172, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. R. Mark Isaac & James M. Walker, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-199.
    17. Steffen Andersen & Seda Ertac & Uri Gneezy & Moshe Hoffman & John A. List, 2011. "Stakes Matter in Ultimatum Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3427-3439, December.
    18. Erin L. Krupka & Roberto A. Weber, 2013. "Identifying Social Norms Using Coordination Games: Why Does Dictator Game Sharing Vary?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 495-524, June.
    19. Smith,Vernon L., 2009. "Rationality in Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521133388, May.
    20. Wilson, Bart J., 2008. "Language games of reciprocity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 365-377, November.
    21. Raymond Fisman & Shachar Kariv & Daniel Markovits, 2007. "Individual Preferences for Giving," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1858-1876, December.
    22. Roth, Alvin E. & Vesna Prasnikar & Masahiro Okuno-Fujiwara & Shmuel Zamir, 1991. "Bargaining and Market Behavior in Jerusalem, Ljubljana, Pittsburgh, and Tokyo: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1068-1095, December.
    23. Greif,Avner, 2006. "Institutions and the Path to the Modern Economy," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521671347.
    24. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
    25. Bochet, Olivier & Page, Talbot & Putterman, Louis, 2006. "Communication and punishment in voluntary contribution experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 11-26, May.
    26. Daniel Houser & Michael Keane & Kevin McCabe, 2004. "Behavior in a Dynamic Decision Problem: An Analysis of Experimental Evidence Using a Bayesian Type Classification Algorithm," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(3), pages 781-822, May.
    27. Hessel Oosterbeek & Randolph Sloof & Gijs van de Kuilen, 2004. "Cultural Differences in Ultimatum Game Experiments: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 7(2), pages 171-188, June.
    28. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy & John A. List, 2012. "Equity Aversion: Social Norms and the Desire to Be Ahead," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 131-144, November.
    29. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, "undated". "Third Party Punishment and Social Norms," IEW - Working Papers 106, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
    30. 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.
    31. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
    32. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1218-1221, September.
    33. Erik O. Kimbrough & Vernon L. Smith & Bart J. Wilson, 2008. "Historical Property Rights, Sociality, and the Emergence of Impersonal Exchange in Long-Distance Trade," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 1009-1039, June.
    34. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gachter, 2010. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 541-556, March.
    35. Christoph Engel, 2011. "Dictator games: a meta study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(4), pages 583-610, November.
    36. Alvin E. Roth, 2007. "Repugnance as a Constraint on Markets," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(3), pages 37-58, Summer.
    37. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt, 2001. "Ten Little Treasures of Game Theory and Ten Intuitive Contradictions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1402-1422, December.
    38. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
    39. Gunnthorsdottir, Anna & Houser, Daniel & McCabe, Kevin, 2007. "Disposition, history and contributions in public goods experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 304-315, February.
    40. Talbot Page & Louis Putterman & Bulent Unel, 2005. "Voluntary Association in Public Goods Experiments: Reciprocity, Mimicry and Efficiency," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1032-1053, October.
    41. Alpizar, Francisco & Carlsson, Fredrik & Johansson-Stenman, Olof, 2008. "Anonymity, reciprocity, and conformity: Evidence from voluntary contributions to a national park in Costa Rica," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(5-6), pages 1047-1060, June.
    42. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
    43. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2009. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(5), pages 1607-1636, September.
    44. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    45. Bicchieri, Cristina & Erte, Xiao, 2007. "Do the right thing: But only if others do so," MPRA Paper 4609, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    46. Axelrod, Robert, 1986. "An Evolutionary Approach to Norms," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1095-1111, December.
    47. Bart J. Wilson & Taylor Jaworski & Karl E. Schurter & Andrew Smyth, 2012. "The Ecological and Civil Mainsprings of Property: An Experimental Economic History of Whalers' Rules of Capture," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(4), pages 617-656, October.
    48. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
    49. Thomas A. Rietz & Eric Schniter & Roman M. Sheremeta & Timothy W. Shields, 2018. "Trust, Reciprocity, And Rules," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 56(3), pages 1526-1542, July.
    50. Halevy, Yoram & Peters, Michael, 2007. "Other Regarding Preferences: Outcomes, Intentions, or Interdependence," Microeconomics.ca working papers peters-07-03-31-11-46-48, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 24 Jun 2009.
    51. 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.
    52. Joseph Henrich & Steve J. Heine & Ara Norenzayan, 2010. "The Weirdest People in the World?," RatSWD Working Papers 139, German Data Forum (RatSWD).
    53. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
    54. Martin J. Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 1994. "A Course in Game Theory," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262650401, December.
    55. Michael Kosfeld & Markus Heinrichs & Paul J. Zak & Urs Fischbacher & Ernst Fehr, 2005. "Oxytocin increases trust in humans," Nature, Nature, vol. 435(7042), pages 673-676, June.
    56. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
    57. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
    58. Bardsley, Nicholas & Sausgruber, Rupert, 2005. "Conformity and reciprocity in public good provision," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(5), pages 664-681, October.
    59. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
    60. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
    61. Schmitt, Pamela & Shupp, Robert & Swope, Kurtis & Mayer, Justin, 2008. "Pre-commitment and personality: Behavioral explanations in ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(3-4), pages 597-605, June.
    62. Gunnthorsdottir, Anna & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon, 2002. "Using the Machiavellianism instrument to predict trustworthiness in a bargaining game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 23(1), pages 49-66, February.
    63. repec:feb:framed:0088 is not listed on IDEAS
    64. Bicchieri,Cristina, 2006. "The Grammar of Society," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521573726, May.
    65. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
    66. Bicchieri,Cristina, 2006. "The Grammar of Society," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521574907, May.
    67. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Eckel, Catherine & Gintis, Herbert, 2010. "Blaming the messenger: Notes on the current state of experimental economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 109-119, January.
    2. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Jaume García-Segarra & Alexander Ritschel, 2018. "The Big Robber Game," ECON - Working Papers 291, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    3. Matteo M. Galizzi & Daniel Navarro-Martinez, 2019. "On the External Validity of Social Preference Games: A Systematic Lab-Field Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(3), pages 976-1002, March.
    4. Breitmoser, Yves & Vorjohann, Pauline, 2018. "Welfare-Based Altruism," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 89, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    5. Thorsten Chmura & Christoph Engel & Markus Englerth, 2013. "Selfishness As a Potential Cause of Crime. A Prison Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_05, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    6. Bart J. Wilson, 2012. "Contra Private Fairness," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(2), pages 407-435, April.
    7. Murnighan, J. Keith & Wang, Long, 2016. "The social world as an experimental game," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 136(C), pages 80-94.
    8. Kimbrough, E.O. & Vostroknutov, A., 2012. "Rules, rule-following and cooperation," Research Memorandum 053, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
    9. Barmettler, Franziska & Fehr, Ernst & Zehnder, Christian, 2012. "Big experimenter is watching you! Anonymity and prosocial behavior in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 17-34.
    10. Walkowitz, Gari, 2021. "Dictator game variants with probabilistic (and cost-saving) payoffs: A systematic test," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    11. Crawford, Ian & Harris, Donna, 2018. "Social interactions and the influence of “extremists”," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 153(C), pages 238-266.
    12. Simon Gaechter, 2014. "Human Pro-Social Motivation and the Maintenance of Social Order," Discussion Papers 2014-02, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    13. Breitmoser, Yves & Vorjohann, Pauline, 2022. "Fairness-based Altruism," Center for Mathematical Economics Working Papers 666, Center for Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University.
    14. Xiao, Erte & Bicchieri, Cristina, 2010. "When equality trumps reciprocity," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 456-470, June.
    15. Simon Gächter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2013. "Peer Effects In Pro-Social Behavior: Social Norms Or Social Preferences?," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 548-573, June.
    16. Kurt A. Ackermann & Ryan O. Murphy, 2019. "Explaining Cooperative Behavior in Public Goods Games: How Preferences and Beliefs Affect Contribution Levels," Games, MDPI, vol. 10(1), pages 1-34, March.
    17. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2005. "The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism – Experimental Evidence and New Theories," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 66, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
    18. Yola Engler & Rudolf Kerschbamer & Lionel Page, 2018. "Why did he do that? Using counterfactuals to study the effect of intentions in extensive form games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(1), pages 1-26, March.
    19. Halevy, Yoram & Peters, Michael, 2007. "Other Regarding Preferences: Outcomes, Intentions, or Interdependence," Microeconomics.ca working papers peters-07-03-31-11-46-48, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 24 Jun 2009.
    20. Kamas, Linda & Preston, Anne, 2012. "Distributive and reciprocal fairness: What can we learn from the heterogeneity of social preferences?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 538-553.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:jeurec:v:14:y:2016:i:3:p:608-638.. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/eeaaaea.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Oxford University Press (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/eeaaaea.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.