IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Social Preferences and Strategic Uncertainty: An Experiment on Markets and Contracts

  • Antonio Cabrales

    (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)

  • Raffaele Miniaci

    (Università di Brescia)

  • Marco Piovesan

    (Department of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

  • Giovanni Ponti

    (Universidad de Alicante)

This paper reports experimental evidence on a stylized labor market. The experiment is designed as a sequence of three phases. In the first two phases, P1 and P2; agents face simple games, which we use to estimate subjects' social and reciprocity concerns, together with their beliefs. In the last phase, P3; four principals, who face four teams of two agents, compete by offering agents a contract from a fixed menu. Then, each agent selects one of the available contracts (i.e. he "chooses to work" for a principal). Production is determined by the outcome of a simple effort game induced by the chosen contract. We find that (heterogeneous) social preferences are significant determinants of choices in all phases of the experiment. Since the available contracts display a trade-off between fairness and strategic uncertainty, we observe that the latter is a much stronger determinant of choices, for both principals and agents. Finally, we also see that social preferences explain, to a large extent, matching between principals and agents, since agents display a marked propensity to work for principals with similar social preferences.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics in its series Discussion Papers with number 08-06.

in new window

Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0806
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Øster Farimagsgade 5, Building 26, DK-1353 Copenhagen K., Denmark

Phone: (+45) 35 32 30 10
Fax: +45 35 32 30 00
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  2. Charness, Gary B, 2004. "Attribution And Reciprocity In An Experimental Labor Market," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt8rp6b18c, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
  4. Fershtman, Chaim & Hvide, Hans K & Weiss, Yoram, 2003. "Cultural Diversity, Status Concerns and the Organization of Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 3982, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  6. Heinemann, Frank & Nagel, Rosemarie & Ockenfels, Peter, 2004. "Measuring Strategic Uncertainty in Coordination Games," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 6, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  8. Crawford, Vincent P & Haller, Hans, 1990. "Learning How to Cooperate: Optimal Play in Repeated Coordination Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 571-95, May.
  9. Fehr, Ernst & Klein, Alexander & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2007. "Fairness and contract design," Munich Reprints in Economics 20618, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  10. Pedro Rey-Biel, 2007. "Inequity Version and Team Incentives," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 677.07, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  11. Bellemare, Charles & Shearer, Bruce S., 2006. "Sorting, Incentives and Risk Preferences: Evidence from a Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 2227, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Kosfeld, Michael & von Siemens, Ferdinand, 2008. "Worker Self-Selection and the Profits from Cooperation," IZA Discussion Papers 3881, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Eyal Winter, 2004. "Incentives and Discrimination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 764-773, June.
  14. Sabrina Teyssier, 2007. "Optimal Group Incentives with Social Preferences and Self-Selection," Working Papers 0710, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique (GATE), Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Université Lyon 2, Ecole Normale Supérieure.
  15. 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, 07.
  16. Alan B. Krueger & David A. Schkade, 2007. "Sorting in the Labor Market: Do Gregarious Workers Flock to Interactive Jobs?," Working Papers 63, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  17. Raymond Fisman & Shachar Kariv & Daniel Markovits, 2005. "Individual Preferences for Giving," Game Theory and Information 0504007, EconWPA.
  18. Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter, 2002. "An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 971-1005, May.
  19. Antonio Cabrales & Antoni Calvo-Armengol & Nicola Pavoni, 2005. "Social Preferences, Skill Segregation, and Wage Dynamics," 2005 Meeting Papers 205, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  20. Agell, J. & Lundborg, P., 1992. "Theories of Pay and Unemployment: Survey Evidence from Swedish Manufacturing Firms," Papers 1993-8, Uppsala - Working Paper Series.
  21. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2000. "Fairness, incentives, and contractual choices," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 44(4-6), pages 1057-1068, May.
  22. Alan S. Blinder & Don H. Choi, 1989. "A Shred of Evidence on Theories of Wage Stickiness," NBER Working Papers 3105, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Costa-Gomes, Miguel & Zauner, Klaus G., 2001. "Ultimatum Bargaining Behavior in Israel, Japan, Slovenia, and the United States: A Social Utility Analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 238-269, February.
  24. John B Van Huyck & Raymond C Battalio & Richard O Beil, 1997. "Tacit coordination games, strategic uncertainty, and coordination failure," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1225, David K. Levine.
  25. Crawford, Vincent P, 1995. "Adaptive Dynamics in Coordination Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(1), pages 103-43, January.
  26. Afriat, Sidney N, 1972. "Efficiency Estimation of Production Function," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 13(3), pages 568-98, October.
  27. John B. Van Huyck & Raymond C. Battalio & Richard O. Beil, 1991. "Strategic Uncertainty, Equilibrium Selection, and Coordination Failure in Average Opinion Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(3), pages 885-910.
  28. Carl M. Campbell III & Kunal S. Kamlani, 1997. "The Reasons for Wage Rigidity: Evidence from a Survey of Firms," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(3), pages 759-789.
  29. Michael Kosfeld & Ferdinand A. von Siemens, 2011. "Competition, cooperation, and corporate culture," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 42(1), pages 23-43, 03.
  30. Cabrales, Antonio & Calvó-Armengol, Antoni, 2007. "Interdependent preferences and segregating equilibria," UC3M Working papers. Economics we072313, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Departamento de Economía.
  31. Manski, Charles F., 2002. "Identification of decision rules in experiments on simple games of proposal and response," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 880-891, May.
  32. Michael Kremer, 1993. "The O-Ring Theory of Economic Development," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 551-575.
  33. Bewley, Truman F, 1995. "A Depressed Labor Market as Explained by Participants," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 250-54, May.
  34. John S. Heywood & Uwe Jirjahn, 2004. "Teams, Teamwork and Absence," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 106(4), pages 765-782, December.
  35. repec:pri:cepsud:139krueger is not listed on IDEAS
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Social Preferences and Strategic Uncertainty: An Experiment on Markets and Contracts (AER 2010) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kud:kuiedp:0806. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Thomas Hoffmann)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.