Can one-shot experimental games measure social norms and preferences?

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Nagatsu, Michiru
conference paper description
People do not behave strictly so as to maximize monetary payoffs in ex- perimental games such as Public Goods and Ultimatum games. To explain this ‘anomaly’, behavioural economists have proposed so-called social pref- erence models that try to capture other-regarding preferences (altruism, in- equity aversion, reciprocity, etc.) as additional arguments of players’ util- ity functions. However, none of the proposed model has successfully ex- plained data across different games. I give a proper diagnosis to this situa- tion by examining Woodward’s (2008) methodological critique of the social preference approach. I argue that the problem lies not in external validity as Woodward argues, but internal validity of those experiments. Specifically, I defend the one-shot design as a useful paradigm as long as it is internally valid.