How do risk attitudes affect pro-social behavior? Theory and experiment

Sean Fahle, Santiago I. Sautua

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We explore how risk preferences affect pro-social behavior under uncertainty. We analyze a modified dictator game in which the dictator can, by reducing her own sure payoff, increase the odds that an unknown recipient wins a lottery. We first augment a standard social preferences model with reference-dependent risk attitudes and then test the model’s predictions for the dictator’s giving behavior using a laboratory experiment. Consistent with the predictions of the model, we find that the relationship between giving behavior and a giver’s loss aversion is mediated by the strength of the giver’s pro-social preferences. Among more (less) pro-social dictators, an increase in loss aversion increases (decreases) the likelihood that a dictator contributes to a recipient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalTheory and Decision
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Social Sciences
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Computer Science Applications


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