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Ecologies of Preferences with Envy as an Antidote to Risk-Aversion in Bargaining


  • Nitai Bergman


  • Yaacov Bergman



Models have been put forward recently that seem to be successful in explaining apparently anomalous experimental results in the Ultimatum Game, where responders reject positive offers. While imparting fixed preference orders to fully rational agents, these models depart from traditional models by assuming preferences that take account not only of the material payoff to oneself, but also of that which is given to others. However, they leave open the question of how an agent’s economic survival is helped by a preference order that advises him to leave money on the table. Our answer is that, indeed, doing so does not help. But that the same envious preference order that ill advises in some circumstances to reject an “insultingly” small offer, advises well in other circumstances, when it helps the same agent to overcome his risk-aversion and to offer a risky, tough offer that yields him a higher expected dollar gain. We show the existence of population distributions where the two effects exactly balance out across different preference types. These distributions are asymptotically stable, stationary, and inefficient, in which different preferences are represented, and where, as commonly observed in an Ultimatum Game, positive offers are made, of which some are rejected with positive probability. Our theory yields new testable hypotheses.

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  • Nitai Bergman & Yaacov Bergman, 2000. "Ecologies of Preferences with Envy as an Antidote to Risk-Aversion in Bargaining," Discussion Paper Series dp322, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, revised Nov 2001.
  • Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp322

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
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    More about this item


    envy; preferences; evolution; bargaining; ultimatum;

    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • G3 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance


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