Social comparisons and reference group formation: Some experimental evidence

Ian M McDonald, Nikos Nikiforakis, Nilss Olekalns, Hugh Sibly

Games and Economic Behavior | ACADEMIC PRESS INC ELSEVIER SCIENCE | Published : 2013


We experimentally investigate reference group formation and the impact of social comparisons in a three-player ultimatum game. The players compete in a real-effort task for the role of the proposer. The role of the responder is randomly allocated to one of the other two participants. The third participant, the non-responder, receives a fixed payment - our treatment variable - and makes no decision. Knowing the size of this payment, the proposer makes a take-it-or-leave-offer to the responder. Most responders appear to ignore the non-responder when the payment the latter receives is low, but not when it is high. As a result, the existence of a non-responder and the payment they receive has a ..

View full abstract