IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/mpi/wpaper/tax-mpg-rps-2016-12.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

You Are Not Alone: Experimental Evidence on Risk Taking When Social Comparisons Matter

Author

Listed:
  • Harald W. Lang

Abstract

We provide experimental evidence that social comparisons affect individual risk taking. In particular, we focus on the case when individuals care about their income-rank. Our model predicts that compared to standard expected utility theory income-rank comparisons lead to less (more) risk taking in case of lotteries with more probability mass on the downside (upside) of the distribution. Evidence shows in line with our predictions that individuals take less risk when lotteries have more probability weight on the downside. However, we do not find an effect for lotteries with more upside probability mass. The effect of social comparisons on risk taking is strongest when the deciding subject and the reference subject are of the same gender.

Suggested Citation

  • Harald W. Lang, 2016. "You Are Not Alone: Experimental Evidence on Risk Taking When Social Comparisons Matter," Working Papers tax-mpg-rps-2016-12, Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:mpi:wpaper:tax-mpg-rps-2016-12
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.tax.mpg.de/RePEc/mpi/wpaper/TAX-MPG-RPS-2016-12.pdf
    File Function: Full text (original version)
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Sutter, Matthias, 2007. "Are teams prone to myopic loss aversion? An experimental study on individual versus team investment behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 128-132, November.
    2. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde & Jürgen Schupp & Gert G. Wagner, 2011. "Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants, And Behavioral Consequences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 522-550, June.
    3. Jona Linde & Joep Sonnemans, 2012. "Social comparison and risky choices," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 45-72, February.
    4. Andrew E. Clark & Paul Frijters & Michael A. Shields, 2008. "Relative Income, Happiness, and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(1), pages 95-144, March.
    5. Brennan, Geoffrey & González, Luis G. & Güth, Werner & Levati, M. Vittoria, 2008. "Attitudes toward private and collective risk in individual and strategic choice situations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 253-262, July.
    6. Bougheas, Spiros & Nieboer, Jeroen & Sefton, Martin, 2013. "Risk-taking in social settings: Group and peer effects," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 273-283.
    7. Uri Gneezy & Jan Potters, 1997. "An Experiment on Risk Taking and Evaluation Periods," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 631-645.
    8. Garrett, Thomas A. & Sobel, Russell S., 1999. "Gamblers favor skewness, not risk: Further evidence from United States' lottery games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 85-90, April.
    9. Werner Güth & M. Vittoria Levati & Matteo Ploner, 2008. "On The Social Dimension Of Time And Risk Preferences: An Experimental Study," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 46(2), pages 261-272, April.
    10. Kocher, Martin G. & Krawczyk, Michal & Le Lec, Fabrice, 2013. "Sharing or gambling? On risk attitudes in social contexts," Discussion Papers in Economics 17383, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    11. Richard E. Quandt, 1986. "Betting and Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 201-207.
    12. Bilancini, Ennio & Boncinelli, Leonardo, 2008. "Ordinal vs cardinal status: Two examples," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(1), pages 17-19, October.
    13. Frank, Robert H, 1985. "The Demand for Unobservable and Other Nonpositional Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 101-116, March.
    14. Konrad, Kai A. & Lommerud, Kjell Erik, 1993. "Relative standing comparisons, risk taking, and safety regulations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 345-358, July.
    15. Alexander W. Cappelen & James Konow & Erik ?. S?rensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2013. "Just Luck: An Experimental Study of Risk-Taking and Fairness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1398-1413, June.
    16. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-291, March.
    17. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy & Ivan Werning, 2005. "The Equilibrium Distribution of Income and the Market for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(2), pages 282-310, April.
    18. Bolton, Gary E. & Ockenfels, Axel & Stauf, Julia, 2015. "Social responsibility promotes conservative risk behavior," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 109-127.
    19. Schwerter, Frederik, 2013. "Social Reference Points and Risk Taking," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers 11/2013, University of Bonn, Bonn Graduate School of Economics (BGSE).
    20. Andreas Friedl & Katharina Lima de Miranda & Ulrich Schmidt, 2014. "Insurance demand and social comparison: An experimental analysis," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 97-109, April.
    21. Andrew E. Clark & Nicolai Kristensen & Niels Westergård-Nielsen, 2009. "Economic Satisfaction and Income Rank in Small Neighbourhoods," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(2-3), pages 519-527, 04-05.
    22. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    23. Dijk, Oege & Holmen, Martin & Kirchler, Michael, 2014. "Rank matters–The impact of social competition on portfolio choice," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 66(C), pages 97-110.
    24. Joseph Golec & Maurry Tamarkin, 1998. "Bettors Love Skewness, Not Risk, at the Horse Track," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(1), pages 205-225, February.
    25. Ada Ferrer-i-Carbonell & Paul Frijters, 2004. "How Important is Methodology for the estimates of the determinants of Happiness?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 641-659, July.
    26. Yoella Bereby-Meyer & Alvin E. Roth, 2006. "The Speed of Learning in Noisy Games: Partial Reinforcement and the Sustainability of Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1029-1042, September.
    27. Philip Grossman & Catherine Eckel, 2015. "Loving the long shot: Risk taking with skewed lotteries," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 195-217, December.
    28. Renate Schubert, 1999. "Financial Decision-Making: Are Women Really More Risk-Averse?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 381-385, May.
    29. Michal Krawczyk & Fabrice Le Lec, 2010. "‘Give me a chance!’ An experiment in social decision under risk," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 13(4), pages 500-511, December.
    30. Robson, Arthur J, 1992. "Status, the Distribution of Wealth, Private and Social Attitudes to Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 837-857, July.
    31. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    32. Frank, Robert H., 2008. "Should public policy respond to positional externalities?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(8-9), pages 1777-1786, August.
    33. Gary Charness & Uri Gneezy, 2010. "Portfolio Choice And Risk Attitudes: An Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 133-146, January.
    34. Easterlin, Richard A., 1995. "Will raising the incomes of all increase the happiness of all?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 35-47, June.
    35. Gary E Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 2005. "Fair Procedures: Evidence from Games Involving Lotteries," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(506), pages 1054-1076, October.
    36. Colin F. Camerer & Howard Kunreuther, 1989. "Decision processes for low probability events: Policy implications," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(4), pages 565-592.
    37. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
    38. Menezes, C & Geiss, C & Tressler, J, 1980. "Increasing Downside Risk," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 921-932, December.
    39. Ingrid Rohde & Kirsten Rohde, 2011. "Risk attitudes in a social context," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 205-225, December.
    40. Matthew Rabin & Georg Weizsacker, 2009. "Narrow Bracketing and Dominated Choices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(4), pages 1508-1543, September.
    41. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, Ada, 2005. "Income and well-being: an empirical analysis of the comparison income effect," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(5-6), pages 997-1019, June.
    42. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social comparisons; individual risk taking; status; portfolio choice; relative income concerns; experiment;

    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
    • G11 - Financial Economics - - General Financial Markets - - - Portfolio Choice; Investment Decisions

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mpi:wpaper:tax-mpg-rps-2016-12. 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: (Hans Mueller). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/mptaxde.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.