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Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments

  • David K Levine

We examine a simple theory of altruism in which players' payoffs are linear in their own monetary income and their opponents. The weight on the opponent's income is private information and varies in the population, depending, moreover, on what the opponent's coefficient is believed to be. Using results of ultimatum experiments and the final round of a centipede experiment, we are able to pin down relatively accurately what the distribution of altruism (and spite) in the population is. This distribution is then used with a reasonable degree of success to explain the results of the earlier rounds of centipede and the results of some public goods contribution games. In addition, we show that in a market game where the theory of selfish players does quite well, the theory of altruism makes exactly the same predictions as the theory of selfish players. (Copyright: Elsevier)

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 2047.

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Date of creation: 17 Oct 1997
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:2047
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  1. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1996. "Measuring Subject’s Losses in Experimental Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 370, David K. Levine.
  2. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-99, February.
  3. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1982. "Predation, reputation, and entry deterrence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 280-312, August.
  4. Alvin E. Roth & V. Prasnikar & M. Okuno-Fujiwara & S. Zamir, 1998. "Bargaining and market behavior in Jerusalem, Liubljana, Pittsburgh and Tokyo: an experimental study," Levine's Working Paper Archive 344, David K. Levine.
  5. Kreps, David M. & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Reputation and imperfect information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 253-279, August.
  6. J. Van Huyck & R. Battalio & F. Rankin, 1996. "On the Evolution of Convention: Evidence from Coordination Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 548, David K. Levine.
  7. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
  8. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  9. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K., 1995. "Consistency and cautious fictitious play," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(5-7), pages 1065-1089.
  10. D. Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1989. "Reputation and Equilibrium Selection in Games with a Patient Player," Levine's Working Paper Archive 508, David K. Levine.
  11. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
  12. Ledyard, John O., . "Public Goods: A Survey of Experimental Research," Working Papers 861, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  13. Prasnikar, Vesna & Roth, Alvin E, 1992. "Considerations of Fairness and Strategy: Experimental Data from Sequential Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 865-88, August.
  14. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
  15. James Andreoni & John H Miller, 1997. "Giving according to GARP: an experimental study of rationality and altruism," Levine's Working Paper Archive 672, David K. Levine.
  16. Binmore, K. & Samuelson, L., 1997. "Evolutionary Drift and Equilibrium Selection," Working papers 9729r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  17. McKelvey, Richard D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1992. "An Experimental Study of the Centipede Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 803-36, July.
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