IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Rotten Kids with Bad Intentions


  • Netzer, Nick
  • Schmutzler, Armin


We examine a "Rotten Kid" model (Becker 1974) where a player with social preferences interacts with an egoistic player. We assume that social preferences are intention-based rather than outcome-based. In a very general multi-stage setting we show that any equilibrium must involve mutually unkind behavior of both players, endogenously generating negative emotions rather than positive altruism. In a large class of two-stage games that includes principal-agent and gift-giving games, this prevents equilibrium from being materially Pareto efficient. Compared to the subgame-perfect equilibrium without social preferences, efficiency is still generally increased. On the other hand, the materialistic player has lower whereas the reciprocal player has higher material payoffs, so that reciprocity does not increase equity: For sufficiently strong reciprocity concerns, the materialistic player ends up with a negligible share of the gains from trade.

Suggested Citation

  • Netzer, Nick & Schmutzler, Armin, 2010. "Rotten Kids with Bad Intentions," CEPR Discussion Papers 7667, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:7667

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    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.
    2. Florian Englmaier & Stephen Leider, 2012. "Contractual and Organizational Structure with Reciprocal Agents," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 146-183, May.
    3. Amihai Glazer, 2008. "Optimal Contracts When a Worker Envies His Boss," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(1), pages 120-137, May.
    4. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2012. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 79(1), pages 67-87.
    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. Bierbrauer, Felix & Netzer, Nick, 2016. "Mechanism design and intentions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 163(C), pages 557-603.
    2. De Marco, Giuseppe & Immordino, Giovanni, 2013. "Partnership, reciprocity and team design," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 39-58.
    3. De Marco Giuseppe & Immordino Giovanni, 2014. "Reciprocity in the Principal–Multiple Agent Model," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 14(1), pages 1-38, January.
    4. Bassi, Matteo & Pagnozzi, Marco & Piccolo, Salvatore, 2014. "Optimal contracting with altruism and reciprocity," Research in Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 27-38.

    More about this item


    Gift Giving; Moral Hazard; Psychological Games; Reciprocity;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law
    • J01 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - Labor Economics: General


    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:cpr:ceprdp:7667. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    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 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.

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.