IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Behavior of Other as a Reference Point


  • Francesco Bogliacino
  • Pietro Ortoleva


We use prospect theory to model reference dependent consumers, where the reference point is the average behavior of the society in the current period. We show that after a finite number of steps under any equilibrium, the distribution of wealth will become and remain equal, or admit a missing class (a particular form of polarization). Under equilibria that admit the highest growth rates, the initial wealth distribution that maximizes this growth rate is one of perfect equality. Conversely, under equilibria that admit the lowest growth rates, perfect equality minimizes this growth rate and societies with a small level of initial inequality grow the fastest. In addition growth rates in corresponding economics without reference dependent consumers admit lower growth rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Francesco Bogliacino & Pietro Ortoleva, 2015. "The Behavior of Other as a Reference Point," Documentos de Trabajo, Escuela de Economía 13611, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, FCE, CID.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000178:013611

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Spiegler, Ran, 2014. "Bounded Rationality and Industrial Organization," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199334261, Decembrie.
    2. Stiglitz, Joseph E, 1969. "Distribution of Income and Wealth among Individuals," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 37(3), pages 382-397, July.
    3. Oded Stark, 2006. "Status Aspirations, Wealth Inequality, and Economic Growth," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 171-176, February.
    4. Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Inference by Believers in the Law of Small Numbers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, President and Fellows of Harvard College, vol. 117(3), pages 775-816.
    5. Ortoleva, Pietro, 2010. "Status quo bias, multiple priors and uncertainty aversion," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 411-424, July.
    6. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    7. Michael Rauscher, 1997. "Conspicuous consumption, economic growth, and taxation," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 66(1), pages 35-42, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Ross, Phillip H., 2019. "Occupation aspirations, education investment, and cognitive outcomes: Evidence from Indian adolescents," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 1-1.
    2. Antonio Filippin & Luca Nunziata, 2019. "Monetary effects of inequality: lessons from the euro experiment," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 17(2), pages 99-124, June.
    3. Camacho, Carmen & Harmankaya, Fatih & Sağlam, Çağrı, 2020. "Social status pursuit, distribution of bequests and inequality," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 183-191.
    4. Martini, Christina & Ibañez Diaz, Marcela & Khadjavi, Menusch, 2021. "Community Aspirations and Collective Action," GlobalFood Discussion Papers 309651, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    5. Bogliacino, Francesco & Jiménez Lozano, Laura & Grimalda, Gianluca, 2018. "Consultative democracy and trust11We thank Vanessa Carrillo, Jairo Paéz and Daniel Reyes for their help during the experiments. A special thanks to Franci Beltrán, Jairo Paéz and Alfonso Peña for prov," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 44(C), pages 55-67.
    6. Bramoullé, Y. & Ghiglino, C., 2024. "Status Consumption in Networks: A Reference Dependent Approach," Janeway Institute Working Papers 2409, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Bogliacino, Francesco & Grimalda, Gianluca & Jimenez, Laura, 2017. "Consultative Democracy & Trust," MPRA Paper 82138, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Bogliacino, Francesco & Codagnone, Cristiano, 2021. "Microfoundations, behaviour, and evolution: Evidence from experiments," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 372-385.
    9. Paula Carrasco & Rodrigo Ceni & Ivonne Perazzo & Gonzalo Salas, 2019. "Are not any silver in the cloud? Subjective well-being among deprived young people," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 19-09, Instituto de Economía - IECON.
    10. Paula Carrasco & Rodrigo Ceni & Ivone Perazzo & Gonzalo Salas, 2021. "Are Not Any Silver Linings in the Cloud? Subjective Well-being Among Deprived Young People," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 491-516, February.
    11. González-Jiménez, Víctor, 2022. "Social status and motivated beliefs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 211(C).
    12. Francesco Bogliacino & Laura Jiménez & Gianluca Grimalda, 2015. "Consultative, Democracy and Trust," Documentos de Trabajo, Escuela de Economía 12696, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, FCE, CID.
    13. Fatas, Enrique & Restrepo-Plaza, Lina, 2022. "When losses can be a gain. A large lab-in-the-field experiment on reference dependent forgiveness in Colombia," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 88(C).

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Wisnicki, Bartlomiej, 2022. "Consumer inertia fosters product quality," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 96(C).
    2. Rachel Croson & James Sundali, 2005. "The Gambler’s Fallacy and the Hot Hand: Empirical Data from Casinos," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 30(3), pages 195-209, May.
    3. Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 315-372, June.
    4. Mateusz Zawisza & Bogumił Kamiński, 2013. "Price patterns in an oligopoly with switching cost and uncertain demand," Operations Research and Decisions, Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Management, vol. 23(3), pages 71-89.
    5. Daniele Pennesi, 2013. "Endogenous Status Quo," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 314, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    6. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Failing to Choose the Best Price: Theory, Evidence, and Policy," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 303-340, November.
    7. Nguyen-Van, Phu & Pham, Thi Kim Cuong, 2013. "Endogenous fiscal policies, environmental quality, and status-seeking behavior," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 32-40.
    8. Camacho, Carmen & Harmankaya, Fatih & Sağlam, Çağrı, 2020. "Social status pursuit, distribution of bequests and inequality," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 86(C), pages 183-191.
    9. Guney, Begum & Richter, Michael, 2018. "Costly switching from a status quo," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 156(C), pages 55-70.
    10. Crawford, VP, 2014. "Boundedly rational versus optimization-based models of strategic thinking and learning in games," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt04h694rz, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
    11. Georgios, Gerasimou, 2013. "A Behavioural Model of Choice in the Presence of Decision Conflict," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-25, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
    12. Dai Zusai, 2018. "Tempered best response dynamics," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 47(1), pages 1-34, March.
    13. Spyros Galanis, 2021. "Dynamic consistency, valuable information and subjective beliefs," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 71(4), pages 1467-1497, June.
    14. Barron, Kai & Huck, Steffen & Jehiel, Philippe, 2019. "Everyday econometricians: Selection neglect and overoptimism when learning from others," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2019-301, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    15. Roee Teper, 2010. "Probabilistic Dominance and Status Quo Bias," Working Paper 5864, Department of Economics, University of Pittsburgh.
    16. repec:wut:journl:v:3:y:2013:id:1089 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Barsha Saha & Miguel Martínez-García & Sharad Nath Bhattacharya & Rohit Joshi, 2022. "Overcoming Choice Inertia through Social Interaction—An Agent-Based Study of Mobile Subscription Decision," Games, MDPI, vol. 13(3), pages 1-16, June.
    18. Maniquet, François & Nosratabadi, Hassan, 2022. "Welfare analysis when choice is status-quo biased," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C).
    19. Riella, Gil & Teper, Roee, 2014. "Probabilistic dominance and status quo bias," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 288-304.
    20. Ghossoub, Mario, 2011. "Towards a Purely Behavioral Definition of Loss Aversion," MPRA Paper 37628, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Mar 2012.
    21. Maltz, Amnon, 2016. "Experience based dynamic choice: A revealed preference approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 1-13.

    More about this item


    Prospect Theory; Reference-dependence; Aspirations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D11 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Theory
    • D91 - Microeconomics - - Micro-Based Behavioral Economics - - - Role and Effects of Psychological, Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Factors on Decision Making

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:col:000178:013611. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Facultad de Ciencias Económicas Unal (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.