Are Social Preferences Skin Deep? Dictators under Cognitive Load
AbstractWe 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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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers in Economics with number 371.
Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: 03 Jul 2009
Date of revision:
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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
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More information through EDIRC
Social Preferences; experiments; dictator game; cognitive load;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2009-07-11 (All new papers)
- NEP-CBE-2009-07-11 (Cognitive & Behavioural Economics)
- NEP-EXP-2009-07-11 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-GTH-2009-07-11 (Game Theory)
- NEP-MIC-2009-07-11 (Microeconomics)
- NEP-NEU-2009-07-11 (Neuroeconomics)
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