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What drives failure to maximize payoffs in the lab? A test of the inequality aversion hypothesis

  • Nicolas Jacquemet

    ()

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, BETA - Bureau d'économie théorique et appliquée - CNRS : UMR7522 - Université de Strasbourg - Université Nancy II)

  • Adam Zylbersztejn

    ()

    (EEP-PSE - Ecole d'Économie de Paris - Paris School of Economics - Ecole d'Économie de Paris, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne)

Experiments based on the Beard and Beil (1994) two-player coordination game robustly show that coordination failures arise as a result of two puzzling behaviors: (i) subjects are not willing to rely on others' self-interested maximization, and (ii) self-interested maximization is not ubiquitous. Such behavior is often considered to challenge the relevance of subgame perfectness as an equilibrium selection criterion, since weakly dominated strategies are actually used. We report on new experiments investigating whether inequality in payoffs between players, maintained in most lab implementations of this game, drives such behavior. Our data clearly show that the failure to maximize personal payoffs, as well as the fear that others might act this way, do not stem from inequality aversion. This result is robust to varying the saliency of decisions, repetition-based learning and cultural differences between France and Poland.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) with number halshs-01026080.

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Date of creation: 2014
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Publication status: Published, Review of Economic Design, 2014, Forthcoming
Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-01026080
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01026080
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1998. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," CEPR Discussion Papers 1812, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Nicolas Jacquemet & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2010. "Learning, words and actions : experimental evidence on coordination-improving information," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-00505164, HAL.
  3. Jacquemet, Nicolas & Joule, Robert-Vincent & Luchini, Stéphane & Shogren, Jason F., 2009. "Earned wealth, engaged bidders? Evidence from a second-price auction," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(1), pages 36-38, October.
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  7. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
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  10. Chou, Eileen & McConnell, Margaret & Nagel, Rosemarie & Plott, Charles R., 2007. "The control of game form recognition in experiments: Understanding dominant strategy failures in a simple two person “Guessing” game," Working Papers 1274, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  11. T. Randolph Beard & Richard O. Beil, 1994. "Do People Rely on the Self-Interested Maximization of Others? An Experimental Test," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(2), pages 252-262, February.
  12. Willinger, Marc & Keser, Claudia & Lohmann, Christopher & Usunier, Jean-Claude, 2003. "A comparison of trust and reciprocity between France and Germany: Experimental investigation based on the investment game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 447-466, August.
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  15. repec:hal:cesptp:halshs-00845123 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. repec:hal:journl:halshs-00429894 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2010. "A within-subject analysis of other-regarding preferences," DICE Discussion Papers 06, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  18. Nicolas Jacquemet & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2013. "Learning, Words and Actions: Experimental Evidence on Coordination-Improving Information," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" halshs-00845123, HAL.
  19. Beard, T Randolph & Beil, Richard O, Jr & Mataga, Yoshiharu, 2001. "Reliant Behavior in the United States and Japan," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 270-79, April.
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  21. Engelmann Dirk & Strobel Martin, 2002. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
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