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Unraveling Fairness in Simple Games? The Role of Empathy and Theory of Mind

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  • Florian Artinger

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin)

  • Fillipos Exadaktylos

    (University of Granada)

  • Lauri Sääksvuori

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)

  • Hannes Koppel

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena)

Abstract

Economists have been theorizing that other-regarding preferences influence decision making. Yet, what are the corresponding psychological mechanisms that inform these preferences in laboratory games? Empathy and Theory of Mind (ToM) are dispositions considered to be essential in social interaction. We investigate the connection between an individual's preference type and her disposition to engage in empathy and ToM in neutrally framed Dictator and Ultimatum Game. For that purpose, cognitive and emotional psychometric scales are applied to infer the dispositions of each subject. We find that a disposition for empathy does not influence the behavior in the games. ToM positively correlates with offers in the Dictator Game. Integral to ToM are beliefs about others. Both, other-regarding and selfish types, show a strong correlation between what they belief others do and their own action. These results indicate that expectations about the prevalent social norm might be central in informing behavior in one-shot games.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2010-037.

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Date of creation: 23 Jun 2010
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Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2010-037

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Keywords: Altruism; Inequality; Empathy; Theory of Mind; Behavioral Economics;

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  1. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  2. Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter, 2002. "An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 971-1005, May.
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