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Social comparison and risk taking behavior

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  • Astrid Gamba

    (Department of Economics, University of Milan Bicocca)

  • Elena Manzoni

    (Department of Economics, University of Milan Bicocca)

Abstract

We study theoretically and experimentally decision making under uncertainty in a social environment. We introduce an interdependent preferences model that assumes that the decision maker evaluates monetary outcomes in relation both with his individual and his social reference point. In the experiment we reproduce a workplace environment whereby subjects interact in an effort task, earn (possibly) different wages from this task and then undertake a risky decision that may give them an extra bonus. Controlling for intrinsic risk attitudes, we find that both downward and upward social comparison strongly influence risk attitudes and that they both generate more risk loving behavior. Moreover, we find that a propension to envy counterposes such effect, by increasing risk aversion.

Suggested Citation

  • Astrid Gamba & Elena Manzoni, 2014. "Social comparison and risk taking behavior," Jena Economics Research Papers 2014-001, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2014-001
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    Cited by:

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    2. Filippin, Antonio & Gioia, Francesca, 2018. "Competition and subsequent risk-taking behaviour: Heterogeneity across gender and outcomes," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 84-94.
    3. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Elena Molis & Levent Neyse, 2020. "Spread of Information, Inequality and Cooperation," ThE Papers 20/01, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
    4. Annika Lindskog & Peter Martinsson & Haileselassie Medhin, 2022. "Risk-taking and others," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 64(3), pages 287-307, June.
    5. Anastasios Koukoumelis & Maria Vittoria Levati & Chiara Nardi, 2021. "Social and Moral Distance in Risky Settings," Working Papers 13/2021, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
    6. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2015. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do online social networks raise social comparisons?," Papers 1507.08863, arXiv.org.
    7. Müller, Stephan & Rau, Holger A., 2019. "Decisions under uncertainty in social contexts," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 73-95.
    8. He, Dan & Shen, Xi & Liu, Qing-Qi, 2020. "The relationship between upward social comparison on SNSs and excessive smartphone use: A moderated mediation analysis," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 116(C).
    9. Alexia Gaudeul, 2013. "Social preferences under uncertainty," Jena Economics Research Papers 2013-024, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    10. Sean Fahle & Santiago I. Sautua, 2021. "How do risk attitudes affect pro-social behavior? Theory and experiment," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 91(1), pages 101-122, July.
    11. Jingcheng Fu & Martin Sefton & Richard Upward, 2017. "Social comparisons in job search: experimental evidence," Discussion Papers 2017-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    12. Mario Lackner & Hendrik Sonnabend, 2020. "Gender differences in overconfidence and decision-making in high-stakes competitions: Evidence from freediving contests," Economics working papers 2020-16, Department of Economics, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria.
    13. Schmidt, Ulrich & Neyse, Levent & Aleknonyte, Milda, 2019. "Income inequality and risk taking: the impact of social comparison information," EconStor Open Access Articles and Book Chapters, ZBW - Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, vol. 87(3), pages 283-297.
    14. Celse, Jeremy & Karakostas, Alexandros & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2023. "Relative risk taking and social curiosity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 210(C), pages 243-264.
    15. Michael Kirchler & Florian Lindner & Utz Weitzel, 2018. "Rankings and Risk‐Taking in the Finance Industry," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 73(5), pages 2271-2302, October.
    16. Stefan Grimm & Martin G. Kocher & Michal Krawczyk & Fabrice Lec, 2021. "Sharing or gambling? On risk attitudes in social contexts," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 24(4), pages 1075-1104, December.
    17. Rau, Holger & Müller, Stephan, 2017. "Decisions under Uncertainty in Social Contexts," VfS Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168228, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    18. Friedl, Andreas & Pondorfer, Andreas & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2020. "Gender differences in social risk taking," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 77(C).
    19. Fu, Jingcheng & Sefton, Martin & Upward, Richard, 2019. "Social comparisons in job search," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 338-361.
    20. Fabio Sabatini & Francesco Sarracino, 2015. "Keeping up with the e-Joneses: Do online social networks raise social comparisons?," Papers 1507.08863, arXiv.org.
    21. Alexandros Karakostas & Giles Morgan & Daniel John Zizzo, 2023. "Socially interdependent risk taking," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 95(3), pages 365-378, October.
    22. Philip Brookins & Jennifer Brown & Dmitry Ryvkin, 2016. "Peer Information and Risk-taking under Competitive and Non-competitive Pay Schemes," NBER Working Papers 22486, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Dietmar Fehr & Yannick Reichlin, 2021. "Status, Control Beliefs, and Risk-Taking," CESifo Working Paper Series 9253, CESifo.
    24. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Molis, Elena & Neyse, Levent, 2021. "Exposure to inequality may cause under-provision of public goods: Experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 92(C).
    25. Müller, Stephan & Rau, Holger A., 2017. "Decisions under uncertainty in social contexts," University of Göttingen Working Papers in Economics 290, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics, revised 2017.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social comparison; risk aversion; interdependent preferences; reference point;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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