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Presents or investments? An experimental analysis

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  • Gneezy, Uri
  • Guth, Werner
  • Verboven, Frank

Abstract

Individuals frequently transfer commodities without an explicit contract or an implicit enforcement mechanism. We design an experiment to study whether such commodity transfers can be viewed as investments based on trust and reciprocity, or whether they rather resemble presents with distributional intentions. Our experiment essentially modifies Berg et al.'s investment game by introducing an upper bound to what a contributor can be repaid afterwards. By varying this upper bound, extreme situations such as unrestricted repayment and no repayment (dictator giving) can be approximated without altering the verbal instructions otherwise. Our results show that individuals contribute more when large repayments are feasible. This is consistent with the trust and reciprocity hypothesis. Although distributional concerns in some contributions can be traced, they are not nearly close to a preference for equal payoffs. --

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 21 (2000)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 481-493

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Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:21:y:2000:i:5:p:481-493

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

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  1. Geanakoplos, John & Pearce, David & Stacchetti, Ennio, 1989. "Psychological games and sequential rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 60-79, March.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gachter & Georg Kirchsteiger, 1997. "Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(4), pages 833-860, July.
  3. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  5. Margin Dufwenberg & Georg Kirchsteiger, 2001. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000090, David K. Levine.
  6. Georg Kirchsteiger, 1994. "The role of envy in ultimatum games," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5925, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. McKelvey, Richard D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1992. "An Experimental Study of the Centipede Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 803-36, July.
  8. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  9. Georg Kirchsteiger & Ernst Fehr, 1994. "Insider power, wage discrimination, and fairness," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5923, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  10. John Geanakoplos & David Pearce & Ennio Stacchetti, 2010. "Psychological Games and Sequential Rationality," Levine's Working Paper Archive 587, David K. Levine.
  11. Burnell, Stephen J. & Evans, Lewis & Yao, Shuntian, 1999. "The Ultimatum Game: Optimal Strategies without Fairness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 221-252, January.
  12. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  13. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, October.
  14. Richard McKelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1999. "An experimental study of the centipede game," Levine's Working Paper Archive 521, David K. Levine.
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