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Social comparisons in ultimatum bargaining

  • Iris Bohnet
  • Richard Zeckhauser

This paper employs experiments to examine the effects of social comparisons in ultimatum bargaining. We inform responders on the average offer before they decide whether to accept or reject their specific offer. To provide a metric for social comparison effects, we compare them with another change in informational conditions, asymmetric information on the pie size. Knowing comparable offers or knowing the pie size increases offers and rejection probabilities by similar magnitudes. Our results are consistent with people disliking deviations from the norm of equity but inconsistent with fairness theories, where people dislike income disparity between themselves and their referents.

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Paper provided by Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA) in its series CREMA Working Paper Series with number 2004-08.

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Date of creation: Jun 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cra:wpaper:2004-08
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Knez Marc J. & Camerer Colin F., 1995. "Outside Options and Social Comparison in Three-Player Ultimatum Game Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 65-94, July.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Kagel, John H. & Kim, Chung & Moser, Donald, 1996. "Fairness in Ultimatum Games with Asymmetric Information and Asymmetric Payoffs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 100-110, March.
  5. repec:dgr:kubcen:199837 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Croson, Rachel T. A., 1996. "Information in ultimatum games: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 197-212, August.
  7. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  8. John Kagel & Katherine Wolfe, 2001. "Tests of Fairness Models Based on Equity Considerations in a Three-Person Ultimatum Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 203-219, December.
  9. 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.
  10. Nick Feltovich & John Duffy, 1999. "Does observation of others affect learning in strategic environments? An experimental study," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 131-152.
  11. Mitzkewitz,Michael & Nagel,Rosemarie, . "Envy,greed and anticipation in ultimatum games with incomplete information: An experimental study," Discussion Paper Serie B :181, University of Bonn, Germany.
  12. Bolton, Gary E, 1991. "A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1096-136, December.
  13. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Ockenfels, Peter, 1996. "Two-Level Ultimatum Bargaining with Incomplete Information: An Experimental Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 593-604, May.
  14. Babcock, Linda & Wang, Xianghong & Lowenstein, George, 1996. "Choosing the Wrong Pond: Social Comparisons in Negotiations That Reflect a Self-Serving Bias," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 111(1), pages 1-19, February.
  15. Harrison, Glenn W & McCabe, Kevin A, 1996. "Expectations and Fairness in a Simple Bargaining Experiment," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 303-27.
  16. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  17. Forsythe, Robert & Kennan, John & Sopher, Barry, 1991. "An Experimental Analysis of Strikes in Bargaining Games with One-Sided Private Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(1), pages 253-78, March.
  18. Rapoport, Amnon & Sundali, James A. & Seale, Darryl A., 1996. "Ultimatums in two-person bargaining with one-sided uncertainty: Demand games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 173-196, August.
  19. Croson, Rachel & Boles, Terry & Murnighan, J. Keith, 2003. "Cheap talk in bargaining experiments: lying and threats in ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 143-159, June.
  20. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  21. Rapoport, Amnon & Sundali, James A, 1996. "Ultimatums in Two-Person Bargaining with One-Sided Uncertainty: Offer Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 475-94.
  22. Joseph Henrich & Robert Boyd & Samuel Bowles & Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr & Herbert Gintis & Richard McElreath & Michael Alvard & Abigail Barr & Jean Ensminger & Kim Hill & Francisco Gil-White & Micha, 2001. "Economic Man in Cross-Cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," Working Papers 01-11-063, Santa Fe Institute.
  23. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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