Public Choice

, Volume 117, Issue 3–4, pp 295–314 | Cite as

Heterogeneous Preferences and Collective Action

  • T.K. Ahn
  • Elinor Ostrom
  • James M. Walker


In recent years, scholarshave turned to alternative representationsof utility to capture motivationalheterogeneity across individuals. In theresearch reported here, we examine twomodels of heterogeneous utility –linear-altruism and inequity-aversion – inthe context of two-person, social dilemmagames. Empirical tests are conducteddrawing on data from experiments andsurveys. We find that the model ofinequity-aversion accounts for asubstantial proportion of the preferencetypes and behavior that are not explainedby the standard model of self-interestedpreferences. In contrast, the altruismmodel does not provide a significantincrease in explanatory power over theinequity-aversion model.


Public Finance Explanatory Power Collective Action Empirical Test Heterogeneous Preference 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • T.K. Ahn
    • 1
  • Elinor Ostrom
    • 2
  • James M. Walker
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceFlorida State UniversityTallahasseeU.S.A
  2. 2.Department of Political Science Workshop in Political Theory and Policy AnalysisIndiana UniversityBloomingtonU.S.A
  3. 3.Department of Economics, Workshop in Political Theory and Policy AnalysisIndiana UniversityBloomingtonU.S.A

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