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The Social Egoist

  • Boschini, Anne

    ()

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

  • Muren, Astri

    ()

    (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University)

  • Persson, Mats

    ()

    (Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University)

People cooperate more in one-shot interactions than can be explained by standard textbook preferences. We discuss a set of non-standard preferences that can accommodate such behavior. They are social, in the sense of incorporating the payoffs of other persons; they are also norm-based, in the sense of taking into account the behavior of other persons. We show theoretically that, with such preferences, a Nash equilibrium with a strictly positive cooperation rate can exist. We use experimental data on within-subject decisions to show that such preferences are empirically plausible. The data show that, in addition to the well-known types (egoist, altruist, reciprocator), there is an important group: the social egoist. Such individuals care for people who have cooperated, but ignore people who have broken the implicit cooperation norm in society. The social egoists, who turn out to be different from “conditional cooperators”, account for one third of the observations in our experiment.

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Paper provided by Stockholm University, Department of Economics in its series Research Papers in Economics with number 2013:14.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: 10 Oct 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:sunrpe:2013_0014
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Department of Economics, Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

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  1. David K Levine, 1997. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2047, David K. Levine.
  2. Fudenberg, Drew & Dreber, Anna & Rand, David G. & Nowak, Martin, 2008. "Winners Don't Punish," Scholarly Articles 2252594, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  3. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2008. "Pride and Prejudice: The Human Side of Incentive Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(3), pages 990-1008, June.
  4. James Andreoni, 2007. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001459, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. López-Pérez, Raúl, 2008. "Aversion to norm-breaking: A model," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 237-267, September.
  7. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3d04q5sm, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  8. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," Working Paper Series 476, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Third-party punishment and social norms," Experimental 0409002, EconWPA.
  10. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  11. 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.
  12. Elinor Ostrom, 2000. "Collective Action and the Evolution of Social Norms," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 137-158, Summer.
  13. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  14. Erlei, Mathias, 2008. "Heterogeneous social preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 436-457, March.
  15. Clark, Kenneth & Sefton, Martin, 2001. "The Sequential Prisoner's Dilemma: Evidence on Reciprocation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 51-68, January.
  16. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  17. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2011. "Identity, Morals, and Taboos: Beliefs as Assets," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 805-855.
  18. Boschini, Anne & Muren, Astri & Persson, Mats, 2011. "Men among men do not take norm enforcement seriously," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 523-529.
  19. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1988. "Private incentives in social dilemmas : The effects of incomplete information and altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 309-332, April.
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