For helpful comments, we thank James Andreoni, Geert Dhaene, Steven Gjerstad, Stephen Leider, Joel Sobel, Stefan Traub, and Frans van Winden as well as participants in the International Meeting of the Economic Science Association (ESA) 2004, the North American Regional ESA Meeting 2004, and at Economics Department seminars at UCSC, Harvard, and University College London. The final revision is much improved due to the suggestions of three anonymous referees and an associate editor. Financial support was provided by the National Science Foundation (Grant numbers IIS-0630805 and IIS-0527770).
Version of Record online: 19 FEB 2008
Volume 76, Issue 1, pages 31–69, January 2008
How to Cite
Cox, J. C., Friedman, D. and Sadiraj, V. (2008), Revealed Altruism. Econometrica, 76: 31–69. doi: 10.1111/j.0012-9682.2008.00817.x
- Issue online: 19 FEB 2008
- Version of Record online: 19 FEB 2008
- Manuscript received June, 2006; final revision received July, 2007.
- Neoclassical preferences;
- social preferences;
This paper develops a nonparametric theory of preferences over one's own and others' monetary payoffs. We introduce “more altruistic than” (MAT), a partial ordering over such preferences, and interpret it with known parametric models. We also introduce and illustrate “more generous than” (MGT), a partial ordering over opportunity sets. Several recent studies focus on two-player extensive form games of complete information in which the first mover (FM) chooses a more or less generous opportunity set for the second mover (SM). Here reciprocity can be formalized as the assertion that an MGT choice by the FM will elicit MAT preferences in the SM. A further assertion is that the effect on preferences is stronger for acts of commission by FM than for acts of omission. We state and prove propositions on the observable consequences of these assertions. Finally, empirical support for the propositions is found in existing data from investment and dictator games, the carrot and stick game, and the Stackelberg duopoly game and in new data from Stackelberg mini-games.