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Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests

  • Gary Charness

    (University of California, Santa Barbara)

  • Matthew Rabin

    (University of California, Berkeley)

Departures from self-interest in economic experiments have recently inspired models of "social preferences". We design a range of simple experimental games that test these theories more directly than existing experiments. Our experiments show that subjects are more concerned with increasing social welfare sacrificing to increase the payoffs for all recipients, especially low-payoff recipients than with reducing differences in payoffs (as supposed in recent models). Subjects are also motivated by reciprocity: They withdraw willingness to sacrifice to achieve a fair outcome when others are themselves unwilling to sacrifice, and sometimes punish unfair behavior.

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File URL: http://128.118.178.162/eps/get/papers/0303/0303002.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series General Economics and Teaching with number 0303002.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: 19 Mar 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpgt:0303002
Note: 57 pages, Acrobat .pdf
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model," General Economics and Teaching 0012002, EconWPA.
  3. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  4. Charness, Gary & Grosskopf, Brit, 2001. "Relative payoffs and happiness: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 301-328, July.
  5. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  6. Andreoni,J. & Brown,P.M. & Vesterlund,L., 1999. "What makes an allocation fair? : Some experimental evidence," Working papers 4, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  7. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  8. Gary E. Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Elena Katok, 2000. "How strategy sensitive are contributions?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 367-387.
  9. repec:dgr:kubcen:199837 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Gary E. Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Strategy and Equity: An ERC Analysis of the Guth-van Damme Game," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2060, David K. Levine.
  11. 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.
  12. Brandts, Jordi & Sola, Carles, 2001. "Reference Points and Negative Reciprocity in Simple Sequential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 138-157, August.
  13. 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).
  14. Armin Falk & Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, . "On the Nature of Fair Behavior," IEW - Working Papers 017, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  15. Croson, Rachel T. A., 1999. "The Disjunction Effect and Reason-Based Choice in Games, , , , , , , , , , , , ," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 118-133, November.
  16. Dufwenberg, Martin & Gneezy, Uri, 2000. "Measuring Beliefs in an Experimental Lost Wallet Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 163-182, February.
  17. James Andreoni, 2001. "Giving According to GARP," Theory workshop papers 339, UCLA Department of Economics.
  18. Gary Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Axel Ockenfels, 1998. "Measuring Motivations for the Reciprocal Responses Observed in a Simple Dilemma Game," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(3), pages 207-219, December.
  19. Gary Charness & Ernan Haruvy, 1999. "Altruism, equity and reciprocity in a gift-exchange experiment: An encompassing approach," Economics Working Papers 368, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  20. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  21. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  22. repec:dgr:uvatin:19990018 is not listed on IDEAS
  23. Timothy N. Cason & Vai-Lam Mui, 1998. "Social Influence in the Sequential Dictator Game," Monash Economics Working Papers archive-37, Monash University, Department of Economics.
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