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Handedness predicts Social Preferences: Evidence connecting the Lab to the Field

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  • Thomas Buser

    (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

It is now generally accepted that some people are more altruistic, more trusting, or more reciprocal than others, but it is still unclear whether these differences are innate or a consequence of nurture. We analyse the correlation between handedness and social preferences in the lab and find that left-handed men are significantly more generous when recipients have the possibility to reciprocate and exhibit stronger positive reciprocity themselves. Left-handed women are significantly less altruistic. We test the external validity of these findings by connecting them to large-scale survey data from the Netherlands and the US covering altruistic behaviour and reciprocity outside the lab. The results largely carry over. We argue that our findings demonstrate that social preferences are at least partially determined by nature and help to shed light on their neural origins.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Tinbergen Institute in its series Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers with number 10-119/3.

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Date of creation: 30 Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:dgr:uvatin:20100119

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Web page: http://www.tinbergen.nl

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Keywords: social preferences; handedness; external validity of lab experiments;

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  1. Kevin Denny & Vincent O'Sullivan, 2006. "The economic consequences of being left-handed: some sinister results," IFS Working Papers W06/07, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  2. Christopher S. Ruebeck & Joseph E. Harrington, Jr & Robert Moffitt, 1997. "Handedness and Earnings," Economics Working Paper Archive 533, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics, revised Jun 2004.
  3. Zak, Paul J. & Stanton, Angela A. & Ahmadi, Sheila, 2007. "Oxytocin Increases Generosity in Humans," MPRA Paper 5650, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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  7. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  8. Joseph Henrich, 2001. "In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 73-78, May.
  9. Johnston, David W. & Shah, Manisha & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Handedness, Time Use and Early Childhood Development," IZA Discussion Papers 2752, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  10. Bohnet, Iris & Croson, Rachel, 2004. "Trust and trustworthiness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 443-445, December.
  11. David, Cesarini & Dawes, Christopher T. & Johannesson, Magnus & Lichtenstein, Paul & Wallace, Björn, 2007. "Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk-Taking," Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 679, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 12 Jan 2009.
  12. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  13. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-74, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Thomas Buser, 2011. "Hormones and Social Preferences," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 11-046/3, Tinbergen Institute.

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