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The many faces of human sociality: uncovering the distribution and stability of social preferences


Bruhin, Adrian; Fehr, Ernst; Schunk, Daniel (2019). The many faces of human sociality: uncovering the distribution and stability of social preferences. Journal of the European Economic Association, 17(4):1025-1069.

Abstract

We uncover heterogeneity in social preferences with a structural model that accounts for outcome-based and reciprocity-based social preferences and assigns individuals to endogenously determined preferences types. We find that neither at the aggregate level nor when we allow for several distinct preference types do purely selfish types emerge, suggesting that other-regarding preferences are the rule and not the exemption. There are three temporally stable other-regarding types. When ahead, all types value others’ payoffs more than when behind. The first, strongly altruistic type puts a large weight on others’ payoffs even when behind and displays moderate levels of reciprocity. The second, moderately altruistic type also puts positive weight on others’ payoff, yet at a lower level, and displays no positive reciprocity. The third, behindness averse type puts a large negative weight on others’ payoffs when behind and is selfish otherwise. In addition, we show that individual-specific estimates of preferences offer only very modest improvements in out-of-sample predictions compared to our three-type model. Thus, a parsimonious model with three types captures the bulk of the information about subjects’ social preferences.

Abstract

We uncover heterogeneity in social preferences with a structural model that accounts for outcome-based and reciprocity-based social preferences and assigns individuals to endogenously determined preferences types. We find that neither at the aggregate level nor when we allow for several distinct preference types do purely selfish types emerge, suggesting that other-regarding preferences are the rule and not the exemption. There are three temporally stable other-regarding types. When ahead, all types value others’ payoffs more than when behind. The first, strongly altruistic type puts a large weight on others’ payoffs even when behind and displays moderate levels of reciprocity. The second, moderately altruistic type also puts positive weight on others’ payoff, yet at a lower level, and displays no positive reciprocity. The third, behindness averse type puts a large negative weight on others’ payoffs when behind and is selfish otherwise. In addition, we show that individual-specific estimates of preferences offer only very modest improvements in out-of-sample predictions compared to our three-type model. Thus, a parsimonious model with three types captures the bulk of the information about subjects’ social preferences.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Uncontrolled Keywords:Behavioral microeconomics (underlying principles), laboratory, individual behavior
Language:English
Date:August 2019
Deposited On:11 Sep 2018 12:05
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 09:16
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1542-4766
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/jeea/jvy018
Official URL:https://academic.oup.com/jeea/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jeea/jvy018/5001317?searchresult=1

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