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A stress test of fairness measures in models of social utility

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  • Gary Bolton

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  • Axel Ockenfels

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Abstract

Current social utility models posit fairness as a motive for certain types of strategic behavior. The models differ, however, with respect to how fairness is measured. Distribution models measure fairness in terms of relative payoff comparisons. Reciprocal-kindness models measure fairness in terms of gifts given and gifts received. Reference points play an important role in both measures, but the reference points in reciprocal-kindness models are conditioned on the actions available to players, whereas those in distributive models are not. Data from an ultimatum game experiment that stress tests the kindness measure is consistent with the distributive measure. Data from an experiment that stress tests the distributive measure is inconsistent with the distributive measure, but moves in the direction opposite that implied by the kindness measure. A measure that combines relative payoff comparisons with a reference point conditioned on feasible actions provides a first approximation to our data. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2005

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  • Gary Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 2005. "A stress test of fairness measures in models of social utility," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 25(4), pages 957-982, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joecth:v:25:y:2005:i:4:p:957-982 DOI: 10.1007/s00199-003-0459-z
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bolton, Gary E. & Ockenfels, Axel, 2008. "Self-centered Fairness in Games with More Than Two Players," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
    2. Herreiner, Dorothea K. & Puppe, Clemens, 2010. "Inequality aversion and efficiency with ordinal and cardinal social preferences--An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 238-253, November.
    3. Güth, Werner & Kocher, Martin G., 2014. "More than thirty years of ultimatum bargaining experiments: Motives, variations, and a survey of the recent literature," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 396-409.
    4. Aurélie Bonein, 2006. "An empirical study of determinants in decision-making process," Working Papers 06-10, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Oct 2006.
    5. Sutter, Matthias, 2007. "Outcomes versus intentions: On the nature of fair behavior and its development with age," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 69-78, January.
    6. Michel Denuit & Louis Eeckhoudt, 2016. "Risk aversion, prudence, and asset allocation: a review and some new developments," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 80(2), pages 227-243, February.
    7. Rübbelke, Dirk T.G., 2011. "International support of climate change policies in developing countries: Strategic, moral and fairness aspects," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(8), pages 1470-1480, June.
    8. Stanca, Luca & Bruni, Luigino & Corazzini, Luca, 2009. "Testing theories of reciprocity: Do motivations matter?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 233-245, August.
    9. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2005. "Expressed preferences and behavior in experimental games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, pages 151-169.
    10. Kirsten Bregn, 2013. "Detrimental Effects of Performance-Related Pay in the Public Sector? On the Need for a Broader Theoretical Perspective," Public Organization Review, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 21-35, March.
    11. Schubert, Manuel & Graf Lambsdorff, Johann, 2012. "On the costs of kindness: An experimental investigation of guilty minds and negative reciprocity," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-64-12, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    12. Oxoby, Robert J. & Spraggon, John, 2008. "Mine and yours: Property rights in dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 703-713, March.
    13. Gary E. Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Elena Katok & Axel Ockenfels & Rami Zwick, "undated". "Testing Theories of Other-regarding Behavior," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2002-43, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
    14. Stanca, Luca, 2010. "How to be kind? Outcomes versus intentions as determinants of fairness," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 106(1), pages 19-21, January.
    15. Bhirombhakdi, Kornpob, 2011. "Performance of a reciprocity model in predicting a positive reciprocity decision," MPRA Paper 37468, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    16. Jan Potters & Martin Sefton & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Leading-by-example and signaling in voluntary contribution games: an experimental study," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), pages 169-182.
    17. Luigino Bruni & Fabio Tufano, 2017. "The value of vulnerability: The transformative capacity of risky trust," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, pages 408-414.
    18. Schubert, Manuel, 2012. "Deeds rather than omissions: How intended consequences provoke negative reciprocity," Passauer Diskussionspapiere, Volkswirtschaftliche Reihe V-65-12, University of Passau, Faculty of Business and Economics.
    19. Jan Potters & Martin Sefton & Lise Vesterlund, 2007. "Leading-by-example and signaling in voluntary contribution games: an experimental study," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), pages 169-182.
    20. Andreas Nicklisch, 2008. "Inequity Aversion, Reciprocity, and Appropriateness in the Ultimatum-Revenge Game," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2008_24, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    21. Stahl, Dale O. & Haruvy, Ernan, 2008. "Subgame perfection in ultimatum bargaining trees," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 292-307, May.
    22. Bhirombhakdi, Kornpob & Potipiti, Tanapong, 2012. "Cost of action, perceived intention, positive reciprocity, and signalling model," MPRA Paper 37469, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), pages 67-80.

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