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

Reference Dependent Altruism

  • Breitmoser, Yves
  • Tan, Jonathan H.W.

In view of behavioral patterns left unorganized by current social preference theories, we propose a theory of reference dependent altruism (RDA). With RDA, one's degree of altruism increases at reference points. It induces equity and efficiency effects that are conditional on whether or not payoffs meet reference points. We verify the theory first by experimentally analyzing majority bargaining, where observed behavior contradicts existing theories but confirms RDA. Using parameter estimates from majority bargaining, we then make out-of-sample predictions for Charness-Rabin, Engelmann-Strobel, and Bolton-Ockenfels games. RDA organizes these seemingly disparate games out-of-sample, which validates our hypothesis that pro-social behavior primarily relates to reference points.

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:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 52774.

in new window

Date of creation: 07 Jan 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:52774
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany

Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2459
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-992459
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. repec:kap:expeco:v:1:y:1998:i:1:p:43-62 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Maria Montero, 2006. "Inequity Aversion May Increase Inequity," Working Papers 2006.80, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  3. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Laury, Susan K., 2002. "Private costs and public benefits: unraveling the effects of altruism and noisy behavior," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 255-276, February.
  4. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 2009. "On Inequity Aversion - A Reply to Binmore and Shaked," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 256, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  5. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
  6. Botond Kőszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2006. "A Model of Reference-Dependent Preferences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(4), pages 1133-1165.
  7. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
  8. Okada, Akira, 2011. "Coalitional bargaining games with random proposers: Theory and application," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 227-235, September.
  9. Baron David & Kalai Ehud, 1993. "The Simplest Equilibrium of a Majority-Rule Division Game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 290-301, December.
  10. Gneiting, Tilmann & Raftery, Adrian E., 2007. "Strictly Proper Scoring Rules, Prediction, and Estimation," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 102, pages 359-378, March.
  11. G Frechette & J Kagel & M Morelli, 2004. "Behavioral Identification in Coalition Bargaining: An Experimental Analysis of Demand Bargaining and Alternating Offers," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000006, UCLA Department of Economics.
  12. Murnigham, J.K. & Roth, A.E. & Schoumaker, F., 1985. "Risk Aversion in Bargaining: an Experimental Study," Cahiers de recherche 8536, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  13. James Andreoni & Charles Sprenger, 2012. "Risk Preferences Are Not Time Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(7), pages 3357-76, December.
  14. Vuong, Quang H, 1989. "Likelihood Ratio Tests for Model Selection and Non-nested Hypotheses," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(2), pages 307-33, March.
  15. Yves Breitmoser & Jonathan H.W. Tan & Daniel John Zizzo, 2008. "Understanding Perpetual R&D Races," Discussion Papers 2008-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  16. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  17. James Andreoni & B. Douglas Bernheim, 2007. "Social Image and the 50-50 Norm: A Theoretical and Experimental Analysis of Audience Effects," Discussion Papers 07-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  18. Selten, Reinhard, 1996. "Axiomatic Characterization of the Quadratic Scoring Rule," Discussion Paper Serie B 390, University of Bonn, Germany.
  19. Brian Knight, 2005. "Estimating the Value of Proposal Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1639-1652, December.
  20. 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.
  21. Eraslan, Hulya, 2002. "Uniqueness of Stationary Equilibrium Payoffs in the Baron-Ferejohn Model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 11-30, March.
  22. Cardona, Daniel & Ponsati, Clara, 2007. "Bargaining one-dimensional social choices," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 137(1), pages 627-651, November.
  23. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
  24. Jonathan Shalev, 2002. "Loss Aversion and Bargaining," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 52(3), pages 201-232, May.
  25. 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.
  26. James M. Snyder Jr. & Michael M. Ting & Stephen Ansolabehere, 2005. "Legislative Bargaining under Weighted Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 981-1004, September.
  27. Diermeier, Daniel & Eraslan, Hulya & Merlo, Antonio, 2002. "Coalition governments and comparative constitutional design," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 893-907, May.
  28. 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.
  29. Cox, J. & Friedman, D. & Gjerstad, S., 2006. "A Trackable Model of Reciprocity and Fairness," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1181, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  30. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  31. Enrico Diecidue & Jeroen van de Ven, 2008. "Aspiration Level, Probability Of Success And Failure, And Expected Utility," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(2), pages 683-700, 05.
  32. Engelmann Dirk & Strobel Martin, 2002. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," Research Memorandum 015, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
  33. James Andreoni & Charles Sprenger, 2010. "Estimating Time Preferences from Convex Budgets," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000457, David K. Levine.
  34. Arcidiacono, Peter & Jones, John B., 2000. "Finite Mixture Distribution, Sequential Likelihood, and the EM Algorithm," Working Papers 00-16, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  35. Jackson, Matthew O. & Moselle, Boaz, 2002. "Coalition and Party Formation in a Legislative Voting Game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 49-87, March.
  36. Botond Koszegi & Matthew Rabin, 2007. "Reference-Dependent Risk Attitudes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1047-1073, September.
  37. Stahl Dale O. & Wilson Paul W., 1995. "On Players' Models of Other Players: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 218-254, July.
  38. Daniel Diermeier & Hulya Eraslan & Antonio Merlo, 2003. "A Structural Model of Government Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 27-70, January.
  39. Drouvelis, Michalis & Montero, Maria & Sefton, Martin, 2010. "Gaining power through enlargement: Strategic foundations and experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 274-292, July.
  40. 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.
  41. Cho, Seok-ju & Duggan, John, 2003. "Uniqueness of stationary equilibria in a one-dimensional model of bargaining," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 118-130, November.
  42. Kritikos, Alexander & Bolle, Friedel, 2001. "Distributional concerns: equity- or efficiency-oriented?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 333-338, December.
  43. Alexander W. Cappelen & Astri Drange Hole & Erik Ø Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2007. "The Pluralism of Fairness Ideals: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 818-827, June.
  44. David Cooper & E. Dutcher, 2011. "The dynamics of responder behavior in ultimatum games: a meta-study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(4), pages 519-546, November.
  45. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," Working Papers 02-06, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  46. Frechette, Guillaume & Kagel, John H. & Morelli, Massimo, 2005. "Nominal bargaining power, selection protocol, and discounting in legislative bargaining," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1497-1517, August.
  47. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Normann, Hans Theo, 2011. "A within-subject analysis of other-regarding preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 321-338, June.
  48. Breitmoser, Yves & Tan, Jonathan H.W., 2013. "Reference dependent altruism in demand bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 127-140.
  49. Yildirim, Huseyin, 2007. "Proposal power and majority rule in multilateral bargaining with costly recognition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 136(1), pages 167-196, September.
  50. Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel & Massimo Morelli, 2010. "Pork Versus Public Goods: An Experimental Study of Public Good Provision Within a Legislative Bargaining Framework," Economics Working Papers ECO2010/37, European University Institute.
  51. Montero, Maria, 2006. "Noncooperative foundations of the nucleolus in majority games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 380-397, February.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:52774. 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: (Joachim Winter)

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.