Expressed Preferences and Behavior in Experimental Games

41 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2003

See all articles by Gary Charness

Gary Charness

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics

Matthew Rabin

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 5, 2004

Abstract

Participants in experimental games typically can only choose actions, without making comments about other participants' future actions. In sequential two-person games, we allow first movers to express a preference between responder choices. We find that responder behavior differs substantially according to whether first movers express a hope for favorable or unfavorable treatment. After favorable first-mover play, allowing such preference expression increases both the expected social surplus and lowest payoff received by 20-30%. Responders largely ignore first movers' expressed preferences for favorable responses, however, when the first movers misbehave. As in earlier experiments without preference expression, subjects assign a high positive weight to another person's payoffs when ahead and misbehavior elicits a strong negative response. Logit regressions estimate the weight placed on another (non-misbehaving) person's payoffs to be positive, even when one is behind. There is suggestive evidence that positive reciprocity is enhanced when a preference for favorable treatment is expressed.

Keywords: Beliefs, Experiment, Expressed Preferences, Positive Reciprocity, Social Preferences

JEL Classification: A12, A13, B49, C70, C91, D63

Suggested Citation

Charness, Gary and Rabin, Matthew, Expressed Preferences and Behavior in Experimental Games (January 5, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=369402 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.369402

Gary Charness (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics ( email )

2127 North Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States
805-893-2412 (Phone)
805-893-8830 (Fax)

Matthew Rabin

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

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