Social Preferences Under Risk: Ex-Post Fairness vs. Efficiency

Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-010

54 Pages Posted: 8 Jul 2015

See all articles by Alexia Gaudeul

Alexia Gaudeul

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Date Written: July 6, 2015


Social lotteries are lotteries that are played along with someone else. The experimental literature indicates that risk attitudes depend on how one's situation in the safe alternative compares to that of a peer. Evaluation of the risky alternative also depends on whether the lottery gives equal payoffs ex-post. Experiments usually present payoffs side-by-side (payoff for me, payoff for the other). This draws attention to inequality in payoffs and thus gives weight to fairness concerns. We consider whether showing own payoff as a share of the total payoff changes risk preferences. Showing total payoffs explicitly draws attention to risk at the level of the pair and may thus moderate dislike for negatively correlated lotteries, as those are less risky at the level of the group. We find that a significant minority of subjects keeps on disliking lotteries that lead to ex-post unequal distributions of payoffs. Subjects also tend to prefer taking a risk rather than obtaining safe but unequal payoff distributions. Beyond reconciling findings from the previous literature, we also discuss differences in sensitivity to the social setting across individuals and the relation between social value orientation in safe and in risky settings.

Keywords: Altruism, Choice under risk, Efficiency, Experiment, Fairness, Inequality aversion, Lotteries, Social lotteries, Social preferences

JEL Classification: C91, D63, D81

Suggested Citation

Gaudeul, Alexia, Social Preferences Under Risk: Ex-Post Fairness vs. Efficiency (July 6, 2015). Jena Economic Research Papers 2015-010, Available at SSRN: or

Alexia Gaudeul (Contact Author)

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen ( email )

Platz der Goettinger Sieben 3
Goettingen, 37073
+49 (0) 551 39 7333 (Phone)


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