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Measuring the willingness to pay to avoid guilt: estimation using equilibrium and stated belief models


  • Charles Bellemare
  • Alexander Sebald
  • Martin Strobel


We estimate structural models of guilt aversion to measure the population level of willingness to pay (WTP) to avoid feeling guilt by letting down another player. We compare estimates of WTP under the assumption that higher-order beliefs are in equilibrium (i.e. consistent with the choice distribution) with models estimated using stated beliefs which relax the equilibrium requirement. We estimate WTP in the later case by allowing stated beliefs to be correlated with guilt aversion, thus controlling for a possible source of a consensus effect. All models are estimated using data from an experiment of proposal and response conducted with a large and representative sample of the Dutch population. Our range of estimates suggests that responders are willing to pay between 0.40 and 0.80 Euro to avoid letting down proposers by 1 Euro. Furthermore, we find that WTP estimated using stated beliefs is substantially overestimated (by a factor of two) when correlation between preferences and beliefs is not controlled for. Finally, we find no evidence that WTP is significantly related to the observable socio-economic characteristics of players.
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Suggested Citation

  • Charles Bellemare & Alexander Sebald & Martin Strobel, 2011. "Measuring the willingness to pay to avoid guilt: estimation using equilibrium and stated belief models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 437-453, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:japmet:v:26:y:2011:i:3:p:437-453

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus & Tjøtta, Sigve & Torsvik, Gaute, 2010. "Testing guilt aversion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 95-107, January.
    2. Bellemare, Charles & Kroger, Sabine, 2007. "On representative social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 183-202, January.
    3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    4. 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.
    5. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2000. "The False Consensus Effect Disappears if Representative Information and Monetary Incentives Are Given," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(3), pages 241-260, December.
    6. Jeffrey Racine, 2008. "Nonparametric econometrics: a primer (in Russian)," Quantile, Quantile, issue 4, pages 7-56, March.
    7. Christoph Vanberg, 2008. "Why Do People Keep Their Promises? An Experimental Test of Two Explanations -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1467-1480, November.
    8. John Kagel & Katherine Wolfe, 2001. "Tests of Fairness Models Based on Equity Considerations in a Three-Person Ultimatum Game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 4(3), pages 203-219, December.
    9. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2007. "Guilt in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 170-176, May.
    10. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2005. "Expressed preferences and behavior in experimental games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 151-169, November.
    11. Charles F. Manski, 2004. "Measuring Expectations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1329-1376, September.
    12. repec:dgr:kubcen:200347 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Muller, Werner G & Ponce de Leon, Antonio C M, 1996. "Optimal Design of an Experiment in Economics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(434), pages 122-127, January.
    14. Bellemare, Charles & Kroger, Sabine, 2007. "On representative social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 183-202, January.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations


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