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Modeling Social Preferences: A Generalized Model of Inequity Aversion

  • Khan, Hayat

Taking note of the wide variety and growing list of models in the literature to explain patterns of behavior observed in laboratory experiments, this paper identifies two tests, the Variety Test (ability of a model to explain outcomes under variety or alternative scenarios) and the Psychological Test (ability of a model to conform to psychological intuition), that can be used to judge any model of other regarding preferences. It is argued that for a mathematical model to qualify as a social welfare function, it must simultaneously pass the two tests. It is shown that none of the models proposed to date passes these two tests simultaneously. The paper proposes a generalized model of inequity aversion which parsimoniously explains interior solution in the dictator game and dynamics of outcomes in other games. The paper postulates that ones idea of equitable distribution is state dependent where the state is determined by psychological and structural parameters. The state could be fair, superior or inferior. Individuals in a fair state have zero equity-bias and split the pie evenly. Those in a superior (inferior) state have positive (negative) equity-bias and value more (less) than fair distribution as equitable distribution. Given psychological tendencies of an individual, every experimental design/structure assigns one of the three states to players which lead to individual specific valuation of equity. Prediction about outcomes across different experiments and designs can be made through predicting its impact on equity-bias. All aspects of an individual’s behavior, such as altruism, fairness, reciprocity, self-serving bias, kindness, intentions etc, manifest itself in equity-bias. The model therefore is all-encompassing.

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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/14701/1/MPRA_paper_14701.pdf
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File URL: http://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/16968/1/MPRA_paper_16968.pdf
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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 14701.

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Date of creation: 19 Jan 2009
Date of revision: 01 Apr 2009
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:14701
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  1. James C. Cox & Daniel Friedman & Steven Gjerstad, 2006. "A Tractable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2006-05, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  2. Bereby-Meyer, Yoella & Niederle, Muriel, 2005. "Fairness in bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 173-186, February.
  3. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  4. Mathias Erlei, 2003. "Heterogeneous Social Preferences," TUC Working Papers in Economics 0001, Abteilung für Volkswirtschaftslehre, Technische Universität Clausthal (Department of Economics, Technical University Clausthal), revised Jun 2004.
  5. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Schotter, Andrew & Weiss, Avi & Zapater, Inigo, 1996. "Fairness and survival in ultimatum and dictatorship games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 37-56, October.
  8. Nicholas Bardsley, 2005. "Altruism or Artefact? A Note on Dictator Game Giving," Discussion Papers 2005-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  9. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  10. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  11. Kagel, John H. & Kim, Chung & Moser, Donald, 1996. "Fairness in Ultimatum Games with Asymmetric Information and Asymmetric Payoffs," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 13(1), pages 100-110, March.
  12. Gary E Bolton & Rami Zuwick, 2010. "Anonymity versus punishments in ultimatum bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 826, David K. Levine.
  13. Ottone, Stefania & Ponzano, Ferruccio, 2005. "An Extension to the Model of Inequity Aversion by Fehr and Schmidt," POLIS Working Papers 51, Institute of Public Policy and Public Choice - POLIS.
  14. Colin F. Camerer & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Anomalies: Ultimatums, Dictators and Manners," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-219, Spring.
  15. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  16. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  17. Offerman, Theo, 2002. "Hurting hurts more than helping helps," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(8), pages 1423-1437, September.
  18. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  19. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  20. John Kagel & Katherine Wolfe, 2001. "Tests of Fairness Models Based on Equity Considerations in a Three-Person Ultimatum Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 4(3), pages 203-219, December.
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