Self-serving biased reference points
This paper formalizes the pervasive phenomenon of the self-serving bias within the framework of reference dependent preferences. This formulation allows the stating of a simple rule to assess the existence of the bias at the aggregate level as well as a procedure that identifies the minimum number of biased agents. We apply the model to two standard situations: a litigation between a plaintiff and a defendant and a bankruptcy problem. In the litigation case, we show how the combination of self-serving bias and reference dependent preferences increases the likelihood that a dispute proceeds to trial. In the bankruptcy case, we show how the existence of individuals with self-serving biased reference points exacerbates the conflict between equity and efficiency of the final allocation.
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