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Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests

  • Charness, Gary
  • Rabin, Matthew

Departures from self-interest in economic experiments have recently inspired models of "social preferences." We design a range of simple experimental games that test these theories more directly than existing experiments. Our experiments show that subjects are more concerned with increasing social welfare-sacrificing to increase the payoffs for all recipients, especially low-payoff recipients-than with reducing differences in payoffs (as supposed in recent models). Subjects are also motivated by reciprocity: they withdraw willingness to sacrifice to achieve a fair outcome when others are themselves unwilling to sacrifice, and sometimes punish unfair behavior. © 2001 the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley in its series Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt4qz9k8vg.

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Date of creation: 01 Jun 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:econwp:qt4qz9k8vg
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  1. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  2. Gary E. Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Strategy and Equity: An ERC Analysis of the Guth-van Damme Game," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2060, David K. Levine.
  3. Bolton, G.E. & Brandts, J. & Ockenfels, A., 1997. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 400.97, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  4. 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.
  5. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "On the Nature of Fair Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 2984, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 1999. "Social preferences: Some simple tests and a new model," Economics Working Papers 441, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Jan 2000.
  7. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Measuring Beliefs in an Experimental Lost Wallet Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 163-182, February.
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Charness, Gary B & Grosskopf, Brit, 2000. "Relative Payoffs And Happiness: An Experimental Study," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8389x8z2, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  10. Charness, Gary B & Haruvy, Ernan, 1999. "Altruism, Equity, And Reciprocity In A Gift-Exchange Experiment: An Encompassing Approach," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt01n8x8m3, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  11. Croson, Rachel T. A., 1999. "The Disjunction Effect and Reason-Based Choice in Games, , , , , , , , , , , , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 118-133, November.
  12. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  13. Andreoni,J. & Brown,P.M. & Vesterlund,L., 1999. "What makes an allocation fair? : Some experimental evidence," Working papers 4, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  14. James Andreoni, 2001. "Giving According to GARP," Theory workshop papers 339, UCLA Department of Economics.
  15. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  16. Gary E. Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Elena Katok, 2000. "How strategy sensitive are contributions?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 367-387.
  17. Brandts, J. & Sola, C., 1998. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 425.98, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  18. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  19. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
  20. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  21. 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.
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