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Are Social Preferences Skin Deep? Dictators under Cognitive Load

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Author Info

  • Hauge, Karen Evelyn

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Oslo University)

  • Brekke, Kjell Arne

    ()
    (Department of Economics, Oslo University)

  • Johansson, Lars-Olof

    ()
    (Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg)

  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof

    ()
    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Svedsäter, Henrik

    ()
    (Organisational Behaviour, London Business School)

Abstract

We study the impact of cognitive load in dictator games to test two conflicting views of moral behavior. Are social preferences skindeep in the sense that they are the result of humans’ cognitive reasoning while the natural instinct is selfish, or is rather the natural instinct to share fairly while our cognitive capacities are able to adjust moral principles in a selfserving manner? Some previous studies in more complex settings give conflicting answers, and to disentangle different possible mechanisms we use simple games. We study both charitable giving and the behavior of dictators under high and low cognitive load, where high cognitive load is assumed to reduce the impact of cognitive processes on behavior. In the dictator game we use both a give frame, where the dictator is given an amount and may share some or all of it to a partner, and a take frame, where dictators may take from an amount initially allocated to the partner. The results from four different studies indicate that the effect of cognitive load is small if at all existing.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/20768
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 371.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 03 Jul 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0371

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Postal: Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Box 640, SE 405 30 GÖTEBORG, Sweden
Phone: 031-773 10 00
Web page: http://www.handels.gu.se/econ/
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Keywords: Social Preferences; experiments; dictator game; cognitive load;

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References

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  1. Dominique Cappellettia & Werner Güth & Matteo Ploner, 2008. "Being of two minds: an ultimatum experiment investigating affective processes," Jena Economic Research Papers 2008-048, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  2. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Who is “Behavioral”? Cognitive Ability and Anomalous Preferences," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001334, David K. Levine.
  3. Willinger, Marc & Ziegelmeyer, Anthony, 1999. "Framing and cooperation in public good games: an experiment with an interior solution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 323-328, December.
  4. Marco Piovesan & Erik Wengström, 2008. "Fast or Fair? A Study of Response Times," Discussion Papers 08-09, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  5. Jordi Brandts & Christiane Schwieren, 2007. "Frames and Games," UFAE and IAE Working Papers, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) 695.07, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
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Cited by:
  1. Jonathan Schulz & Urs Fischbacher & Christian Th�ni & Verena Utikal, 2011. "Affect and Fairness," TWI Research Paper Series, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz 68, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
  2. Tim Friehe & Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, 2014. "Crime and Self-Control Revisited: Disentangling the Effect of Self-Control on Risk and Social Preferences," CESifo Working Paper Series 4747, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Chen, Chia-Ching & Chiu, I-Ming & Smith, John & Yamada, Tetsuji, 2012. "Too smart to be selfish? Measures of cognitive ability, social preferences, and consistency," MPRA Paper 41078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Gerhard Riener & Conny Wollbrant, 2013. "Tangible temptation in the social dilemma: Cash, cooperation, and self-control," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-13-04, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
  5. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2012. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game: Are there brains in games?," MPRA Paper 38825, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Allred, Sarah & Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2013. "Cognitive Load and Strategic Sophistication," MPRA Paper 47997, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. Kessler, Judd B. & Meier, Stephan, 2014. "Learning from (failed) replications: Cognitive load manipulations and charitable giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 10-13.
  8. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2011. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game," MPRA Paper 30856, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Buckert, Magdalena & Oechssler, Jörg & Schwieren, Christiane, 2014. "Imitation under stress," Working Papers 0556, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  10. Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny Wollbrant, 2012. "Reconciling pro-social vs. selfish behavior: On the role of self-control," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(3), pages 304-315, May.

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