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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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  9. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
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  11. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  12. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2001. "Social Preferences: Some Simple Tests and a New Model," General Economics and Teaching 0012002, EconWPA.
  13. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
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  16. 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.
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  18. Gary E. Bolton & Jordi Brandts & Elena Katok, 2000. "How strategy sensitive are contributions?," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 367-387.
  19. 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.
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  23. 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.
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