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Measuring Social Norms and Preferences Using Experimental Games: A Guide for Social Scientists

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Oxford University Press
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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to describe a menu of experimental games that are useful for measuring aspects of social norms and social preferences. Economists use the term 'preferences' to refer to the choices people make, and particularly to tradeoffs between different collections ('bundles') of things they value-food, money, time, prestige, and so forth. 'Social preferences' refer to how people rank different allocations of material payoffs to themselves and others. We use the term 'self-interested' to refer to people who do not care about the outcomes of others. While self-interest can be a useful working assumption, experimental research of the 1980s and 1990s have shown that a substantial fraction of people in developed countries (typically college students) also care about the payoffs of others. In some situations, many people are willing to spend resources to reduce the payoff of others. In other situations, the same people spend resources to increase the payoff of others.

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