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Altruism, equity and reciprocity in a gift-exchange experiment: An encompassing approach

  • Gary Charness
  • Ernan Haruvy

Considerable experimental evidence suggests that non-pecuniary motives must be addressed when modeling behavior in economic contexts. Recent models of non-pecuniary motives can be classified as either altruism- based, equity-based, or reciprocity-based. We estimate and compare leading approaches in these categories, using experimental data. We then offer a flexible approach that nests the above three approaches, thereby allowing for nested hypothesis testing and for determining the relative strength of each of the competing theories. In addition, the encompassing approach provides a functional form for utility in different settings without the restrictive nature of the approaches nested within it. Using this flexible form for nested tests, we find that intentional reciprocity, distributive concerns, and altruistic considerations all play a significant role in players' decisions.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 368.

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Date of creation: Mar 1999
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:368
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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  10. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S285-300, October.
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  12. 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.
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  14. Abbink, Klaus & Bernd Irlenbusch & Elke Renner, 1997. "The Moonlighting Game - An Experimental Study on Reciprocity and Retribution," Discussion Paper Serie B 415, University of Bonn, Germany.
  15. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
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  19. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr & Arno Riedl, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5927, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  20. 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.
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