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Greiff, Matthias
Ackermann, Kurt A.
Murphy, Ryan O.
Year of Publication: 
Series/Report no.: 
Joint Discussion Paper Series in Economics 06-2016
A variety of different social contexts have been used when measuring distributional preferences. This could be problematic as different degrees of social interdependence may affect people's distributional preferences, and this contextual variance may inadvertently muddle the measurement process and complicate comparisons between different strands of research. In the present study, we systematically measure distributional preferences embedded within different social contexts, as well as cooperative choices in a strategic setting. More specifically, we use a within-subjects design and compare the choices people make in resource allocation tasks with role certainty, role uncertainty, decomposed games, and matrix games. Results show that, at the aggregate level, role uncertainty and decomposed games both lead to higher degrees of prosociality when compared to role certainty. At the individual level, we observe considerable differences in behavior across the social contexts, indicating that the majority of people are sensitive to these different social settings but respond in different ways. We conclude with some recommendations for measuring distributional preferences as an individual difference and reiterate that social context is an inherent part of measurement methodology when considering social motivations.
Distributional Preferences
Social Preferences
Other Regarding Preferences
Social Value Orientation (SVO)
Measurement Methods
Individual Differences
Document Type: 
Working Paper

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