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The role of role uncertainty in modified dictator games

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  • Nagore Iriberri

    ()

  • Pedro Rey-Biel

    ()

Abstract

We compare behavior in modified dictator games with and without role uncertainty. Subjects choose between a selfish action, a costly surplus creating action (altruistic behavior) and a costly surplus destroying action (spiteful behavior). While costly surplus creating actions are the most frequent under role uncertainty (64%), selfish actions become the most frequent without role uncertainty (69%). Also, the frequency of surplus destroying choices is negligible with role uncertainty (1%) but not so without it (11%). A classification of subjects into four different types of interdependent preferences (Selfish, Social Welfare maximizing, Inequity Averse and Competitive) shows that the use of role uncertainty overestimates the prevalence of Social Welfare maximizing preferences in the subject population (from 74% with role uncertainty to 21% without it) and underestimates Selfish and Inequity Averse preferences. An additional treatment, in which subjects undertake an understanding test before participating in the experiment with role uncertainty, shows that the vast majority of subjects (93%) correctly understand the payoff mechanism with role uncertainty, but yet surplus creating actions were most frequent. Our results warn against the use of role uncertainty in experiments that aim to measure the prevalence of interdependent preferences.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Experimental Economics.

Volume (Year): 14 (2011)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 160-180

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Handle: RePEc:kap:expeco:v:14:y:2011:i:2:p:160-180

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=102888

Related research

Keywords: Role uncertainty; Role reversal; Interdependent preferences; Social welfare maximizing; Inequity aversion; Mixture-of-types models; Strategy method; Experiments; C72; C91; D81;

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References

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Nagore Iriberri & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2009. "Elicited Beliefs and Social Information in Modified Dictator Games: What Do Dictators Believe Other Dictators Do?," Working Papers 405, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Ockenfels, Axel & Werner, Peter, 2012. "‘Hiding behind a small cake’ in a newspaper dictator game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 82-85.
  3. Rigdon, Mary L. & Levine, Adam Seth, 2009. "The Role of Expectations and Gender in Altruism," MPRA Paper 19372, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2011. "The strategy versus the direct-response method: a first survey of experimental comparisons," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 375-398, September.
  5. Pedro Rey-Biel & Roman Sheremeta & Neslihan Uler, 2011. "(Bad) Luck or (Lack of) Effort?: Comparing Social Sharing Norms between US and Europe," Working Papers 584, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  6. Levati, M. Vittoria & Nicholas, Aaron & Rai, Birendra, 2014. "Testing the single-peakedness of other-regarding preferences," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 197-209.
  7. Astrid Dannenberg & Thomas Riechmann & Bodo Sturm & Carsten Vogt, 2012. "Inequality aversion and the house money effect," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 460-484, September.
  8. Mitesh Kataria & Natalia Montinari, 2012. "Risk, Entitlements and Fairness Bias: Explaining Preferences for Redistribution in Multi-person Setting," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-061, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.

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