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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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File URL: http://www.econ.upf.edu/docs/papers/downloads/368.pdf
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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Guth, Werner & Tietz, Reinhard, 1990. "Ultimatum bargaining behavior : A survey and comparison of experimental results," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 417-449, September.
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  11. Ochs, Jack & Roth, Alvin E, 1989. "An Experimental Study of Sequential Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(3), pages 355-84, June.
  12. Fehr, Ernst, et al, 1998. "When Social Norms Overpower Competition: Gift Exchange in Experimental Labor Markets," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(2), pages 324-51, April.
  13. Costa-Gomes, Miguel & Zauner, Klaus G., 2001. "Ultimatum Bargaining Behavior in Israel, Japan, Slovenia, and the United States: A Social Utility Analysis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 238-269, February.
  14. 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.
  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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