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Social Preferences in the Lab: A Comparison of Students and a Representative Population

Author

Listed:
  • Alexander W. Cappelen
  • Knut Nygaard
  • Erik Ø. Sørensen
  • Bertil Tungodden

Abstract

Can lab experiments on student populations serve to identify the motivational forces present in society at large? We address this question by conducting, to our knowledge, the first study of social preferences that brings a nationally representative population into the lab, and we compare their behavior to the behavior of different student populations. Our study shows that students may not be informative of the role of social preferences in the broader population. We find that the representative participants differ fundamentally from students both in their level of selfishness and in the relative importance assigned to different moral motives. It is also interesting to note that while we do not find any substantial gender differences among the students, males and females in the representative group differ fundamentally in their moral motivation.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexander W. Cappelen & Knut Nygaard & Erik Ø. Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2011. "Social Preferences in the Lab: A Comparison of Students and a Representative Population," CESifo Working Paper Series 3511, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3511
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Capraro, Valerio & Rascón-Ramírez, Ericka, 2018. "Gender differences in altruism on Mechanical Turk: Expectations and actual behaviour," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 19-23.
    2. Ahrens, Steffen & Snower, Dennis J., 2014. "Envy, guilt, and the Phillips curve," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 69-84.
    3. Alain Cohn & Tobias Gesche & Michel André Maréchal, 2018. "Honesty in the Digital Age," CESifo Working Paper Series 6996, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Boschini, Anne & Dreber, Anna & von Essen, Emma & Muren, Astri & Ranehill, Eva, 2018. "Gender and altruism in a random sample," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 72-77.
    5. Alexia Gaudeul, 2013. "Social preferences under uncertainty," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    6. A. Alekseev & Mikhail Freer, 2018. "Selection in the Lab: A Network Approach," Working Papers ECARES 2018-32, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    7. Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos,, 2013. "Do Social Incentives Matter? Evidence from an Online Real Effort Experiment," Review of Environment, Energy and Economics - Re3, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, January.
    8. Tiziana Medda & Vittorio Pelligra & Tommaso Reggiani, 2016. "Does Experience Affect Fairness and Reciprocity in Lab Experiments?," CERBE Working Papers wpC09, CERBE Center for Relationship Banking and Economics.
    9. Müller Daniel & Sander Renes, 2019. "Fairness Views and Political Preferences - Evidence from a representative sample," Working Papers 2019-08, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    10. Daniel Müller & Sander Renes, 2017. "Fairness views and political preferences - Evidence from a large online experiment," Working Papers 2017-10, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
    11. Mirco Tonin & Michael Vlassopoulos, 2015. "Corporate Philanthropy and Productivity: Evidence from an Online Real Effort Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(8), pages 1795-1811, August.
    12. Ingvild Almås & Alexander W. Cappelen & Bertil Tungodden, 2016. "Cutthroat Capitalism versus Cuddly Socialism: Are Americans more Meritocratic and Efficiency-Seeking than Scandinavians?," CESifo Working Paper Series 6278, CESifo Group Munich.
    13. repec:jdm:journl:v:13:y:2018:i:4:p:345-355 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Kettner, Sara Elisa & Waichman, Israel, 2016. "Old age and prosocial behavior: Social preferences or experimental confounds?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 118-130.
    15. L. Frigau & T. Medda & V. Pelligra, 2017. "From the Field to the Lab. An Experiment on the Representativeness of Standard Laboratory Subjects," Working Paper CRENoS 201704, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    16. Bott, Kristina Maria & Cappelen, Alexander W. & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil, 2017. "You’ve got mail: A randomised Field experiment on tax evasion," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 10/2017, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    17. repec:eee:soceco:v:78:y:2019:i:c:p:160-169 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Hardardottir, Hjördis & Gerdtham, Ulf-G. & Wengström, Erik, 2019. "What Kind of Inequality Do You Prefer? Evaluating Measures of Income and Health Inequality Using Choice Experiments," Working Papers 2019:7, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 31 May 2019.
    19. V. Pelligra & T. Reggiani & T. Medda, 2016. "Does Experience Affect Fairness, Reciprocity and Cooperation in Lab Experiments?," Working Paper CRENoS 201610, Centre for North South Economic Research, University of Cagliari and Sassari, Sardinia.
    20. repec:eee:joepsy:v:65:y:2018:i:c:p:26-40 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Rudolf Kerschbamer & Daniel Muller, 2017. "Social preferences and political attitudes: An online experiment on a large heterogeneous sample," Working Papers 2017-16, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social preferences; representative population; dictator game; trust game;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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