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Social Comparisons and Reference Group Formation: Some Expermental Evidence

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  • Ian McDonald
  • Nikos Nikiforakis
  • Nilss Olekalns
  • Hugh Sibly

Abstract

We investigate reference group formation and the impact of social comparisons on ultimatum bargaining using a laboratory experiment. Three individuals compete in a real-e¤ort task for the role of the proposer in a three-player ultimatum game. The role of the responder is randomly allocated. The third individual receives a ?fixed payment - our treatment variable - and makes no decision. The existence of a non-responder has a dramatic e¤ect on bargaining outcomes. In the most extreme treatment, more than half of the o¤ers are rejected. Behavior shows individuals exhibit self-serving bias in the way they de?ne their reference groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Ian McDonald & Nikos Nikiforakis & Nilss Olekalns & Hugh Sibly, 2009. "Social Comparisons and Reference Group Formation: Some Expermental Evidence," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 1069, The University of Melbourne.
  • Handle: RePEc:mlb:wpaper:1069
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    Cited by:

    1. Nikos Nikiforakis & Helen Mitchell, 2014. "Mixing the carrots with the sticks: third party punishment and reward," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, pages 1-23.
    2. Cason, Timothy N. & Gangadharan, Lata & Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2011. "Can real-effort investments inhibit the convergence of experimental markets?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 97-103, January.
    3. James Bland & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2013. "Tacit Coordination in Games with Third-Party Externalities," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    4. Riyanto, Yohanes E. & Zhang, Jianlin, 2013. "The impact of social comparison of ability on pro-social behaviour," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 37-46.
    5. James Andreoni & Nikos Nikiforakis & Jan Stoop, 2017. "Are the Rich More Selfish than the Poor, or Do They Just Have More Money? A Natural Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 23229, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Gächter, Simon & Gerhards, Leonie & Nosenzo, Daniele, 2017. "The importance of peers for compliance with norms of fair sharing," European Economic Review, Elsevier, pages 72-86.
    7. Bland, James & Nikiforakis, Nikos, 2015. "Coordination with third-party externalities," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 1-15.
    8. Amy K. Choy & John R. Hamman & Ronald R. King & Roberto A. Weber, 2016. "Delegated bargaining in a competitive agent market: an experimental study," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 2(1), pages 22-35, May.
    9. Björn Bartling & Tobias Gesche & Nick Netzer, 2017. "Does the absence of human sellers bias bidding behavior in auction experiments?," Journal of the Economic Science Association, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 3(1), pages 44-61, July.
    10. Lehr, Alex & Vyrastekova, Jana & Akkerman, Agnes & Torenvlied, René, 2016. "Spillovers and conflict in wage bargaining: Experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 59-68.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    social comparisons; ultimatum bargaining; laboratory experiments; self-serving bias; real-e¤ort;

    JEL classification:

    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement

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