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Efficiency, equality and reciprocity in social preferences: A comparison of students and a representative population

  • Cappelen, Alexander W.


    (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Nygaard, Knut


    (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Sørensen, Erik Ø.


    (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

  • Tungodden, Bertil


    (Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration)

The debate between Engelmann and Strobel (2004, 2006) and Fehr, Naef, and Schmidt (2006) highlights the important question of the extent to which lab experiments on student populations can serve to identify the motivational forces present in society at large. We address this question by comparing the lab behavior of a student group and a non-student group, where the non-student group on all observable factors is almost identical to the representative adult population in Norway. All participants take part in exactly the same lab experiment. Our study shows that students may not be informative of the role of social preferences in the broader population. We nd that the representative participants differ fundamentally from students both in their level of selfishness and in the relative importance assigned to different moral motives. It is also interesting to note that while we do not find any substantial gender differences among the students, males and females in the representative group differ fundamentally in their moral motivation.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics in its series Discussion Paper Series in Economics with number 28/2010.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 15 Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:nhheco:2010_028
Contact details of provider: Postal: NHH, Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Phone: +47 55 959 277
Fax: 5595 9100
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  1. William T. Harbaugh & Kate Krause & Timothy R. Berry, 2001. "GARP for Kids: On the Development of Rational Choice Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1539-1545, December.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Bernhard von Rosenbladt & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2002. "A Nation-Wide Laboratory: Examining Trust and Trustworthiness by Integrating Behavioral Experiments into Representative Surveys," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 319, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  3. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri D. Hole & Erik Ø. Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2005. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," CESifo Working Paper Series 1611, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2006. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1918-1923, December.
  5. Sutter, Matthias & Kocher, Martin G., 2007. "Trust and trustworthiness across different age groups," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 364-382, May.
  6. Nava Ashraf & Iris Bohnet & Nikita Piankov, 2006. "Decomposing trust and trustworthiness," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 193-208, September.
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