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Self-serving interpretations of ambiguity in other-regarding behavior

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  • Haisley, Emily C.
  • Weber, Roberto A.

Abstract

We demonstrate that people can adopt a favorable view of ambiguous risks relative to ones with known probabilities, contrary to the usual attitude of ambiguity aversion, when doing so permits justification for unfair behavior. We use binary dictator games involving a choice between a relatively equitable allocation and an "unfair" allocation that is both less generous and makes the recipient's payment dependent on a p=0.5 lottery. Dictators choose the unfair option more frequently when the recipient's allocation depends on an ambiguous lottery than on a lottery with a known probability -- even though the objective distributions of outcomes are identical under the two kinds of lotteries. Dictators' estimates of the expected value of the recipients' allocations are inflated under ambiguity, indicating that dictators form self-serving beliefs about ambiguity. Finally, increased unfair behavior under ambiguity is extinguished when dictators are constrained by their own initial unmotivated, and negative, attitudes towards ambiguity.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 68 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 614-625

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:2:p:614-625

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

Related research

Keywords: Ambiguity Social preference Fairness Dictator game Altruism;

References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Alexander Cappelen & Astri Hole & Erik Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2011. "The importance of moral reflection and self-reported data in a dictator game with production," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 36(1), pages 105-120, January.
  2. Simon Gaechter & Daniele Nosenzo & Martin Sefton, 2010. "Peer Effects In Pro-Social Behavior: Social Norms Or Social Preferences?," Discussion Papers 2010-23, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Brown, Jason L. & Fisher, Joseph G. & Sooy, Matthew & Sprinkle, Geoffrey B., 2014. "The effect of rankings on honesty in budget reporting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 237-246.
  4. Winschel, Evguenia & Zahn, Philipp, 2012. "Effciency Concern under Asymmetric Information," Working Papers 13-07, University of Mannheim, Department of Economics.
  5. Wang, Xianghong, 2012. "When workers do not know – The behavioral effects of minimum wage laws revisited," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 951-962.
  6. Felix Ebeling, 2013. "On the role of endowment heterogeneity and ambiguity for conditional cooperation," Working Paper Series in Economics 58, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.

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