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Actions and Beliefs: Estimating Distribution-Based Preferences Using a Large Scale Experiment with Probability Questions on Expectations


  • Charles Bellemare
  • Sabine Kröger
  • Arthur van Soest


We combine the choice data of proposers and responders in the ultimatum game, their expectations elicited in the form of subjective probability questions, and the choice data of proposers (dictators) in a dictator game to estimate a structural model of decision making under uncertainty. We use a large and representative sample of subjects drawn from the Dutch population. Our results indicate that there is considerable heterogeneity in preferences for equity in the population. Changes in preferences have an important impact on decisions of dictators in the dictator game and responders in the ultimatum game, but a smaller impact on decisions of proposers in the ultimatum game, a result due to proposer's subjective expectations about responders' decisions. The model which uses subjective data on expectations has better predictive power and lower noise level than a model which assumes that players have rational expectations. Afin de déceler un modèle structurel de prise de décision dans l'incertitude, nous combinons les données recueillies par i) les choix des deux types de joueurs dans le jeu de l'ultimatum (ceux qui proposent et ceux qui répondent), ii) leurs attentes obtenues sous la forme de questions à probabilité subjective, et iii) les choix des dictateurs (premiers joueurs) dans le jeu du dictateur. Nous utilisons un large échantillon représentatif des sujets dans la population néerlandaise. Nos résultats indiquent une hétérogénéité considérable dans la population sur les préférences en matière d'équité. La diversité de ces préférences a un impact important sur les décisions des dictateurs dans le jeu du dictateur, et sur les répondeurs dans le jeu de l'ultimatum, mais un impact plutôt moindre sur les décisions des joueurs qui proposent dans le jeu de l'ultimatum. Cette dernière observation est due aux attentes subjectives de ces joueurs face aux décisions des répondeurs. Le modèle qui utilise des données subjectives sur les attentes des joueurs prévoit mieux les choix des sujets et réduit plus le bruit qu'un modèle qui suppose que les joueurs ont des attentes rationnelles.

Suggested Citation

  • Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kröger & Arthur van Soest, 2006. "Actions and Beliefs: Estimating Distribution-Based Preferences Using a Large Scale Experiment with Probability Questions on Expectations," CIRANO Working Papers 2006s-16, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2006s-16

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
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    5. Bellemare, Charles & Kroger, Sabine, 2007. "On representative social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 183-202, January.
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    1. repec:spr:grdene:v:16:y:2007:i:4:d:10.1007_s10726-006-9051-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri Drange Hole & Erik Ø Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2007. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 818-827, June.
    3. Bellemare, Charles & Bissonnette, Luc & Kröger, Sabine, 2007. "Flexible Approximation of Subjective Expectations Using Probability Questions: An Application to the Investment Game," IZA Discussion Papers 3121, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. Christian Belzil, 2006. "Subjective beliefs and Schooling Decisions," Post-Print halshs-00265466, HAL.
    5. Cabrales, Antonio & Miniaci, Raffaele & Piovesan, Marco & Ponti, Giovanni, 2007. "An experiment on markets and contracts : do social preferences determine corporate culture?," UC3M Working papers. Economics we072010, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
    6. Werner Güth & Carsten Schmidt & Matthias Sutter, 2007. "Bargaining outside the lab - a newspaper experiment of a three-person ultimatum game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 117(518), pages 449-469, March.
    7. Olivier Armantier & Nicolas Treich, 2006. "Overbidding in Independant Private-Values Auctions and Misperception of Probabilities," CIRANO Working Papers 2006s-15, CIRANO.

    More about this item


    ; attentes subjectives; aversion à l'injustice; jeu de l'ultimatum;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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