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Revealed Altruism

  • James C. Cox
  • Daniel Friedman
  • Vjollca Sadiraj

This paper develops a nonparametric theory of preferences over one's own and others' monetary payoffs. We introduce "more altruistic than" (MAT), a partial ordering over preferences, and interpret it with known parametric models. We also introduce and illustrate "more generous than" (MGT), a partial ordering over opportunity sets. Several recent studies focus on two player extensive form games of complete information in which the first mover (FM) chooses a more or less generous opportunity set for the second mover (SM). Here reciprocity can be formalized as the assertion that an MGT choice by the FM will elicit MAT preferences in the SM. A further assertion is that the effect on preferences is stronger for acts of commission by FM than for acts of omission. We state and prove propositions on the observable consequences of these assertions. Finally, empirical support for the propositions is found in existing data from investment games and from Stackelberg games and in new data from Stackelberg mini-games.

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Paper provided by Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University in its series Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series with number 2006-09.

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Length: 50
Date of creation:
Date of revision: Jul 2007
Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2006-09
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  1. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  3. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  4. Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2001. "Stackelberg Beats Cournot: On Collusion and Efficiency in Experimental Markets," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 749-65, October.
  5. 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.
  6. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  7. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  8. Cox, J. & Friedman, D. & Gjerstad, S., 2006. "A Trackable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1181, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  9. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  10. 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.
  11. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  12. Sonnemans, Joep & Dijk, Frans van & Winden, Frans van, 2006. "On the dynamics of social ties structures in groups," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 187-204, April.
  13. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:108:y:1993:i:2:p:437-59 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  15. Abbink, Klaus & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 1997. "The Moonlighting Game - An Experimental Study on Reciprocity and Retribution," Discussion Paper Serie B 415, University of Bonn, Germany.
  16. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  17. James C. Cox & Vjollca Sadiraj, . "Direct Tests of Models of Social Preferences and a New Model," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-13, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University, revised Jul 2010.
  18. Ronald Bosman & Frans van Winden, 2002. "Emotional Hazard in a Power-to-take Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 147-169, January.
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