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Reference Dependent Altruism

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

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Breitmoser, Yves & Tan, Jonathan H.W., 2014. "Reference Dependent Altruism," MPRA Paper 52774, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:52774
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Pelligra, Vittorio & Reggiani, Tommaso G. & Zizzo, Daniel John, 2016. "Responding to (Un)Reasonable Requests," IZA Discussion Papers 10189, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    bargaining; non-cooperative game; laboratory experiment; social preferences; quantal response equilibrium;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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