This paper is a partial review of the literature on ‘social preferences’. There are empirical findings that convincingly demonstrate the existence of social preferences, but there are also studies that indicate their fragility. So how robust are social preferences, and how exactly are they context dependent? One of the most promising insights from the literature, in my view, is an equilibrium explanation of mutually referring conditional social preferences and expectations. I use this concept of equilibrium, summarized by means of a figure, to discuss a range of empirical studies. Where appropriate, I also briefly discuss a couple of insights from the (mostly parallel) evolutionary literature about cooperation. A concrete case of the Orma in Kenya will be used as a motivating example in the beginning.
- Game theory
- Social preferences