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Tastes, castes, and culture: The influence of society on preferences

  • Ernst Fehr
  • Karla Hoff

Economists have traditionally treated preferences as exogenously given. Preferences are assumed to be influenced by neither beliefs nor the constraints people face. As a consequence, changes in behaviour are explained exclusively in terms of changes in the set of feasible alternatives. Here we argue that the opposition to explaining behavioural changes in terms of preference changes is illfounded, that the psychological properties of preferences render them susceptible to direct social influences, and that the impact of “society” on preferences is likely to have important economic and social consequences.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 026.

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Date of creation: Aug 2011
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Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:026
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  1. Maarten Voors & Eleonora Nillesen & Philip Verwimp & Erwin Bulte & Robert Lensink & Daan van Soest, 2010. "Does Conflict affect Preferences? Results from Field Experiments in Burundi," Research Working Papers 21, MICROCON - A Micro Level Analysis of Violent Conflict.
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  3. Klaus Abbink & Jordi Brandts & Benedikt Herrmann & Henrik Orzen, 2010. "Intergroup Conflict and Intra-group Punishment in an Experimental Contest Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 420-47, March.
  4. Beatrix Eugster & Rafael Lalive & Andreas Steinhauer & Josef Zweimüller, 2011. "The Demand for Social Insurance: Does Culture Matter?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(556), pages F413-F448, November.
  5. Karla Hoff & Mayuresh Kshetramade & Ernst Fehr, 2010. "Caste and punishment: the legacy of caste culture in norm enforcement," IEW - Working Papers 476, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
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  12. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
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  19. Adrian Bruhin & Helga Fehr-Duda & Thomas Epper, 2010. "Risk and Rationality: Uncovering Heterogeneity in Probability Distortion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1375-1412, 07.
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