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Reference Point Effects in Antisocial Preferences


  • Klaus Abbink
  • David Masclet
  • Matthijs van Veelen


We study antisocial preferences in simple money-burning tasks. A decision maker can choose whether or not to reduce another person's payoff at an own cost. We vary across tasks the initial endowment of the decider and the victim. We find that most conventional expectations are refuted: Subjects burn more when inequality is advantageous than when it is disadvantageous. Equitable distributions are particularly prone to destruction. These effects are reversed, however, when the equivalent tasks are framed as creation instead of destruction. Nous étudions les préférences antisociales à l'aide d'un jeu simple de money burning. Dans ce jeu, un agent doit choisir s'il souhaite ou pas réduire, moyennant un cout, le gain d'un autre agent. Nous avons fait varier les gains des deux agents. Nos résultats indiquent que les agents n'hésitent pas à « bruler » l'argent des autres, y compris lorsque les écarts de gains sont à l'avantage du décideur, ce qui réfute clairement l'hypothèse d'aversion à l'inégalité. Les cas où les gains du décideur et de la victime sont identiques sont particulièrement sujets à destruction. Nous observons également que les décisions de destructions sont particulièrement sensibles aux effets de framing.

Suggested Citation

  • Klaus Abbink & David Masclet & Matthijs van Veelen, 2011. "Reference Point Effects in Antisocial Preferences," CIRANO Working Papers 2011s-11, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2011s-11

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    1. Ola Kvaløy & Miguel Luzuriaga & Trond E. Olsen, 2017. "A trust game in loss domain," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(4), pages 860-877, December.
    2. Chen, Jingnan & Houser, Daniel & Montinari, Natalia & Piovesan, Marco, 2016. "Beware of popular kids bearing gifts: A framed field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 132(PA), pages 104-120.
    3. Gary Charness & David Masclet & Marie Claire Villeval, 2014. "The Dark Side of Competition for Status," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 60(1), pages 38-55, January.
    4. Clark, Andrew E. & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2014. "Attitudes to Income Inequality: Experimental and Survey Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 8136, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. Andrew E. Clark, 2017. "Happiness, income and poverty," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 64(2), pages 145-158, June.
    6. repec:spr:sochwe:v:50:y:2018:i:3:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1089-x is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Esther Kessler & Maria Ruiz-Martos & David Skuse, 2012. "Destructor Game," Working Papers 2012/11, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    8. Klaus Abbink & David Masclet & Daniel Mirza, 2012. "Inequality and Inter-group Conflicts – Experimental Evidence," Economics Working Paper from Condorcet Center for political Economy at CREM-CNRS 2012-07-ccr, Condorcet Center for political Economy.
    9. Müller, Julia & Schwieren, Christiane & Spitzer, Florian, 2016. "What Drives Destruction? On the Malleability of Anti-Social Behavior," Department of Economics Working Paper Series 5343, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business.

    More about this item


    experiment; money burning; framing effects; preferences anti-sociales; expérience; jeu de « money burning »; effets de framing; préférences anti-sociales;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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