Beiträge zur Jahrestagung des Vereins für Socialpolitik 2015: Ökonomische Entwicklung - Theorie und Politik - Session: The effect of peers and social interaction on behaviour F02-V1
We test whether social reference points impact individual risk taking. In a laboratory experiment, decision makers observe the earnings of a peer subject before making a risky choice. We exogenously manipulate the peer earnings across two treatments. We find a significant treatment effect on risk taking: decision makers vary their risk taking in order to surpass or stay ahead of their peer. Our findings are consistent with a social-comparison-based, reference-dependent preference model that formalizes relative concerns via social loss aversion. Additionally, we relate our findings to the impact of private reference points on risk taking.