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Social vs. risk preferences under the veil of ignorance


  • Nicola Frignani

    () (Università di Ferrara)

  • Giovanni Ponti

    (Universidad de Alicante)


This paper reports experimental evidence from a Dictator Game experiment in which subjects choose repeatedly one out of four options involving a pair of fixed monetary prizes, one for them, one for another anonymously matched subject. In some sessions, player position (i.e. the identity of the best paid agent, constant across all options) is known in advance before subjects have to make their decision; in other sessions subjects choose “under the veil of ignorance”, not knowing to which player position they will be eventually assigned. We also collect evidence from additional sessions in which the same options correspond to binary lotteries, in which subjects may win the high or the low prize, but their decisions do not affect other participants. We frame subjects’ decisions within the realm of a simple mean-variance utility maximization problem, where the parameter associated to the variance is interpreted, depending on the treatment conditions, as a measure of pure risk aversion, pure inequality aversion, or some combination of the two. We also condition our estimates to subjects’ individual socio-demographic characteristics.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicola Frignani & Giovanni Ponti, 2011. "Social vs. risk preferences under the veil of ignorance," Working Papers. Serie AD 2011-07, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  • Handle: RePEc:ivi:wpasad:2011-07

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Edi Karni & Tim Salmon & Barry Sopher, 2008. "Individual sense of fairness: an experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(2), pages 174-189, June.
    2. Binmore, Ken & McCarthy, John & Ponti, Giovanni & Samuelson, Larry & Shaked, Avner, 2002. "A Backward Induction Experiment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 48-88, May.
    3. Steffen Andersen & Glenn W. Harrison & Morten I. Lau & E. Elisabet Rutström, 2008. "Eliciting Risk and Time Preferences," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(3), pages 583-618, May.
    4. Antonio Cabrales & Raffaele Miniaci & Marco Piovesan & Giovanni Ponti, 2010. "Social Preferences and Strategic Uncertainty: An Experiment on Markets and Contracts," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2261-2278, December.
    5. Glenn W. Harrison & Tanga McDaniel, 2008. "Voting games and computational complexity," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 546-565, July.
    6. Amiel, Yoram & Creedy, John & Hurn, Stan, 1999. " Measuring Attitudes towards Inequality," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 101(1), pages 83-96, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Becchetti, Leonardo & Degli Antoni, Giacomo & Ottone, Stefania & Solferino, Nazaria, 2013. "Allocation criteria under task performance: The gendered preference for protection," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 96-111.
    2. Leonardo Becchetti & Giacomo Degli Antoni & Stefania Ottone & Nazaria Solferino, 2011. "Spectators versus stakeholders with or without veil of ignorance: The difference it makes for justice and chosen distribution criteria," Working Papers 204, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.

    More about this item


    Keywords: dictator games; social preferences; risk preferences; functional identification.;

    JEL classification:

    • D86 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Economics of Contract Law

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