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Learning about a Class of Belief-Dependent Preferences without Information on Beliefs


  • Bellemare, Charles

    () (Université Laval)

  • Sebald, Alexander

    () (University of Copenhagen)


We show how to bound the effect of belief-dependent preferences on choices in sequential two-player games without information about the (higher-order) beliefs of players. The approach can be applied to a class of belief-dependent preferences which includes reciprocity (Dufwenberg and Kirchsteiger, 2004) and guilt aversion (Battigalli and Dufwenberg, 2007) as special cases. We show how the size of the bounds can be substantially reduced by exploiting a specific invariance property common to preferences in this class. We illustrate our approach by analyzing data from a large scale experiment conducted with a sample of participants randomly drawn from the Dutch population. We find that behavior of players in the experiment is consistent with significant guilt aversion: some groups of the population are willing to pay at least 0.16e to avoid 'letting down' another player by 1e. We also find that our approach produces narrow and thus very informative bounds on the effect of reciprocity in the games we consider. Our bounds suggest the model of reciprocity we consider is not a significant determinant of decisions in our experiment.

Suggested Citation

  • Bellemare, Charles & Sebald, Alexander, 2011. "Learning about a Class of Belief-Dependent Preferences without Information on Beliefs," IZA Discussion Papers 5957, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5957

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Charles Bellemare & Alexander Sebald & Martin Strobel, 2011. "Measuring the willingness to pay to avoid guilt: estimation using equilibrium and stated belief models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 26(3), pages 437-453, April.
    2. Bellemare, Charles & Kroger, Sabine, 2007. "On representative social capital," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 183-202, January.
    3. Victor Chernozhukov & Sokbae Lee & Adam M. Rosen, 2013. "Intersection Bounds: Estimation and Inference," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(2), pages 667-737, March.
    4. Dhaene, Geert & Bouckaert, Jan, 2010. "Sequential reciprocity in two-player, two-stage games: An experimental analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 289-303, November.
    5. Charles Bellemare & Luc Bissonnette & Sabine Kröger, 2010. "Bounding preference parameters under different assumptions about beliefs: a partial identification approach," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(3), pages 334-345, September.
    6. Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kröger & Arthur van Soest, 2008. "Measuring Inequity Aversion in a Heterogeneous Population Using Experimental Decisions and Subjective Probabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(4), pages 815-839, July.
    7. Andrew Chesher, 2009. "Single equation endogenous binary reponse models," CeMMAP working papers CWP23/09, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
    8. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Koch, Alexander K. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2014. "Preferences and beliefs in a sequential social dilemma: a within-subjects analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 122-135.
    9. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2007. "Guilt in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 170-176, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bartling, Björn & Netzer, Nick, 2016. "An externality-robust auction: Theory and experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 186-204.

    More about this item


    belief-dependent preferences; guilt aversion; reciprocity; partial identification;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D84 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Expectations; Speculations

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