Individuals sort into and out of economic environments based on their preferences and in response to relative prices. We demonstrate the importance of such sorting for the measurement of social preferences, using two laboratory experiments. First, allowing subjects to avoid environments in which sharing is possible significantly reduces sharing. This reveals the existence of a type of individual who shares reluctantly, preferring to avoid the opportunity to share. Second, after subsidizing the sharing environment, the aggregate amount shared increases, but less is shared, on average, by those who enter. Thus, subsidies intended to induce more sharing have weak effects since they attract those who share the least. (JEL C91, D12, D64)
Lazear, Edward P., Ulrike Malmendier, and Roberto A. Weber.
"Sorting in Experiments with Application to Social Preferences."
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics,
Design of Experiments: Laboratory, Individual
Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis