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

Camerer, Colin F. and Fehr, Ernst (2004) Measuring Social Norms and Preferences Using Experimental Games: A Guide for Social Scientists. In: Foundations of human sociality : economic experiments and ethnographic evidence from fifteen small-scale societies. Oxford University Press , Oxford, pp. 55-95. ISBN 9780199262045.

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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.

Item Type:Book Section
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URLURL TypeDescription ItemDiscussion Paper
Camerer, Colin F.0000-0003-4049-1871
Additional Information:This paper was prepared for the MacArthur Foundation Anthropology project meeting. This research was supported by NSF SBR9730364. Thanks to Sam Bowles and Joe Henrich for comments, and Natalie Smith for sharing figures from her paper. Ernst Fehr acknowledges support from the Swiss National Science Foundation (project number 1214-05100.97), the Network on the Evolution of Preferences and Social Norms of the MacArthur Foundation, and the EU-TMR Research Network ENDEAR (FMRX-CTP98-0238).
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Swiss National Science Foundation1214-05100.97
Network on the Evolution of PreferencesUNSPECIFIED
Social Norms of the MacArthur FoundationUNSPECIFIED
EU-TMR Research Network ENDEARFMRX-CTP98-0238
Preferences NetworkUNSPECIFIED
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Working paper (Institute for Empirical Research in Economics)97
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ID Code:99409
Deposited By: Katherine Johnson
Deposited On:23 Oct 2019 18:50
Last Modified:23 Oct 2019 18:50

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