Where Do Social Preferences Come From?

Date: 2015-08
By: Chaning Jang (Department of Psychology, Princeton University)
John Lynham (Department of Economics & UHERO, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Center for Ocean Solutions, Stanford University)
URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:hae:wpaper:2015-8&r=net
Where do preferences for fairness come from? We use a unique field setting to test for a spillover of sharing norms from the workplace to a laboratory experiment. Fishermen working in teams receive random income shocks (catching fish) that they must regularly divide among themselves. We demonstrate a clear correlation between sharing norms in the field and sharing norms in the lab. Furthermore, the spillover effect is stronger for fishermen who have been exposed to a sharing norm for longer, suggesting that our findings are not driven by selection effects. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that work environments shape social preferences.
Keywords: ultimatum game; social preferences; fairness; workplace spillovers
JEL: Q2 C9 C7 B4 D1