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Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests

  • Charness, Gary B
  • Rabin, Matthew

Departures from self-interest in economic experiments have recently inspired models of “social preferencesâ€. 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.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt0dc3k4m5.

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Date of creation: 01 Aug 2001
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt0dc3k4m5
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  1. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Charness, Gary & Haruvy, Ernan, 2002. "Altruism, equity, and reciprocity in a gift-exchange experiment: an encompassing approach," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 40(2), pages 203-231, August.
  3. 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.
  4. Charness, Gary & Grosskopf, Brit, 2001. "Relative payoffs and happiness: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 301-328, July.
  5. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  6. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  8. 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.
  9. Gary Charness and Matthew Rabin., 2000. "Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model," Economics Working Papers E00-283, University of California at Berkeley.
  10. James Andreoni, 2001. "Giving According to GARP," Theory workshop papers 339, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Brandts, Jordi & Sola, Carles, 2001. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 138-157, August.
  12. Andreoni,J. & Brown,P.M. & Vesterlund,L., 1999. "What makes an allocation fair? : Some experimental evidence," Working papers 4, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  13. 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.
  14. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "On the Nature of Fair Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 2984, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Gary Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 207-219, December.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Gary E. Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Elena Katok, 2000. "How strategy sensitive are contributions?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 367-387.
  21. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
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