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Minimal Social Cues in the Dictator Game

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  • Rigdon, Mary
  • Ishii, Keiko
  • Watabe, Motoki
  • Kitayama, Shinobu

Abstract

This paper reports results of an incentivized laboratory experiment manipulating an extremely weak social cue in the Dictator Game. Prior to making their decision, we present dictators with a simple visual stimlulus: either three dots in a “watching-eyes” configuration, or three dots in a neutral configuration. The watching-eyes configuration is suggestive of a schematic face—a stimuli that is known to weakly activate the fusiform face area of the brain (Tong, et al., 2000; Bednar and Miikkulainen, 2003; Johnson and Morton, 1991). Given the experimental evidence for automatic priming of watching eyes of others, it is thus reasonable to hypothesize that even though the social cue is very weak, this activation might be sufficient to produce a significant change in social behavior. Our results demonstrate that such a weak social cue does increase giving behavior—even under conditions of complete anonymity—and this difference in behavior across subjects is entirely explained by differences in the choice behavior of males. In fact, males in our treatment condition, who typically act more selfishly than do females in conditions of complete anonymity, give twice as much to anonymous recipients than females give.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8439.

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Date of creation: 26 Mar 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8439

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Keywords: dictator game; social preferences; laboratory experiment; social distance;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Boschini, Anne & Muren, Astri & Persson, Mats, 2009. "Constructing Gender in the Economics Lab," Research Papers in Economics 2009:15, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  2. Duffy, John & Kornienko, Tatiana, 2010. "Does competition affect giving?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(1-2), pages 82-103, May.
  3. Ekström, Mathias, 2011. "Do Watching Eyes Affect Charitable Giving? Evidence from a Field Experiment," Research Papers in Economics 2011:28, Stockholm University, Department of Economics.
  4. Zultan, Ro’i, 2012. "Strategic and social pre-play communication in the ultimatum game," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 425-434.
  5. Anna Dreber & Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson & David Rand, 2013. "Do people care about social context? Framing effects in dictator games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 349-371, September.
  6. Diane Reyniers & Richa Bhalla, 2013. "Reluctant altruism and peer pressure in charitable giving," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 8(1), pages 7-15, January.
  7. Vanessa Mertins & Susanne Warning, 2013. "Gender Differences in Responsiveness to a Homo Economicus Prime in the Gift-Exchange Game," IAAEU Discussion Papers 201309, Institute of Labour Law and Industrial Relations in the European Union (IAAEU).
  8. Rigdon, Mary L. & Levine, Adam Seth, 2009. "The Role of Expectations and Gender in Altruism," MPRA Paper 19372, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Heinrich, Timo & Weimann, Joachim, 2013. "A note on reciprocity and modified dictator games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 121(2), pages 202-205.
  10. Zizzo, Daniel John, 2013. "Claims and confounds in economic experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 186-195.
  11. Björn Frank, 2009. "Clean Evidence on Face-to-Face: Why Experimental Economics is of Interest to Regional Economists," MAGKS Papers on Economics 200904, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
  12. Burnham, Terence C., 2013. "Toward a neo-Darwinian synthesis of neoclassical and behavioral economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S113-S127.
  13. Christoph Engel, 2010. "Dictator Games: A Meta Study," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2010_07, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, revised Jan 2011.
  14. Axel Franzen & Sonja Pointner, 2013. "Giving according to preferences: Decision-making in the group dictator game," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 2, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences, revised 24 Jan 2014.

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