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Attribution And Reciprocity In An Experimental Labor Market

Listed author(s):
  • Charness, Gary B

Papers such as Akerlof and Yellen (1990) and Rabin (1993) argue that considerations such as fairness and reciprocity are important in individual decision-making. The gift-exchange game (Fehr, Kirchsteiger & Reidl, 1993, and many others) has established that, in the laboratory, higher wages offered by an employer lead to considerably more costly effort provision. However, it is unclear whether this behavior reflects reciprocity or other forms of social preferences. This paper tests whether attribution of volition in choosing a wage has a significant effect on subsequent costly effort provision. Treatments varied whether wages were chosen by the employer or by an external process. We see that both distributional concerns and reciprocity play a major role. The data are examined in the light of recent utility models.

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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 qt8rp6b18c.

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Date of creation: 01 May 2004
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt8rp6b18c
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  1. Bolton, Gary E, 1991. "A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1096-1136, December.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  3. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "On the Nature of Fair Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 2984, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Georg Kirchsteiger & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-459.
  5. George A. Akerlof, 1982. "Labor Contracts as Partial Gift Exchange," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 97(4), pages 543-569.
  6. Chaness, Gary & Levine, David I., 1999. "Changes in the Employment Contract? Evidence from a Quasi-Experiment," Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, Working Paper Series qt4p535308, Institute of Industrial Relations, UC Berkeley.
  7. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  8. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  9. George A. Akerlof & Janet L. Yellen, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-283.
  10. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  11. John C. Ham & John H. Kagel & Steven F. Lehrer, 2000. "Randomization, Endogeneity and Laboratory Experiments," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1524, Econometric Society.
  12. Gary E. Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Elena Katok, 2000. "How strategy sensitive are contributions?," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 15(2), pages 367-387.
  13. James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2005. "On the Nature of Reciprocal Motives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 623-635, July.
  14. 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.
  15. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  16. Gary Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(3), pages 207-219, December.
  17. Holm, Hakan & Nystedt, Paul, 2005. "Intra-generational trust--a semi-experimental study of trust among different generations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 403-419, November.
  18. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 285-300, October.
  19. 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.
  20. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2003. "Truth or Consequences: An Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(1), pages 116-130, January.
  21. R. Lynn Hannan & John H. Kagel & Donald V. Moser, 2002. "Partial Gift Exchange in an Experimental Labor Market: Impact of Subject Population Differences, Productivity Differences, and Effort Requests on Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(4), pages 923-951, October.
  22. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
  23. Offerman, Theo, 2002. "Hurting hurts more than helping helps," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1423-1437, September.
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