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Behavioural evidence for social preferences

By Markus Schaffner


A central topic in economics is the existence of social preferences. Behavioural economics in general has approached the issue from several angles. Controlled experimental settings, surveys, and field experiments are able to show that in a number of economic environments, people usually care about immaterial things such as fairness or equity of allocations. Findings from experimental economics specifically have lead to large increase in theories addressing social preferences. Most (pro)social phenomena are well understood in the experimental settings but very difficult to observe 'in the wild'. One criticism in this regard is that many findings are bound by the artificial environment of the computer lab or survey method used. A further criticism is that the traditional methods also fail to directly attribute the observed behaviour to the mental constructs that are expected to stand behind them. This thesis will first examine the usefulness of sports data to test social preference models in a field environment, thus overcoming limitations of the lab with regards to applicability to other - non-artificial - environments. The second major contribution of this research establishes a new neuroscientific tool - the measurement of the heart rate variability - to observe participants' emotional reactions in a traditional experimental setup

Topics: behavioural economics, social preferences, sports data, relative income position, reference groups, inequality aversion, experimental economics, neuroscience, neuroeconomics, heart rate variability, HRV, ultimatum bargaining game, public good experiment, tax compliance
Publisher: 'Queensland University of Technology'
Year: 2011
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