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The Indirect Evolutionary Approach To Explaining Fair Allocations

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  • S. HUCK
  • J. OECHSSLER

Abstract

Experimental results on the ultimatum game show clearly that (1) large fractions of players offer a 'fair' allocation and (2) that unfair (but positive) offers are systematically rejected. We offer an explanation of this behavior using the 'indirect evolutionary approach' which is based on the assumption that players behave rationally for given preferences but that their preferences change through an evolutionary process. We prove that despite anonymous interaction a preference for punishing unfair offers is an evolutionarily successful strategy if players interact in small groups. This leads players to split the resource equally almost always. However, the equal split is not due to 'true fairness' (or 'altruism') but is entirely caused by the (justified) fear that unfair offers might be rejected.

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Paper provided by Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes in its series SFB 373 Discussion Papers with number 1996,13.

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Date of creation: 1996
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:sfb373:199613

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  1. R. Cressman & K.H. Schlag, . "The Dynamic (In)Stability of Backwards Induction," ELSE working papers 027, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  2. G. Bolton, 2010. "A comparative model of bargaining: theory and evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 263, David K. Levine.
  3. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  4. Samuelson, L. & Zhang, J., 1990. "Evolutionary Stability In Symmetric Games," Working papers 90-24, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  5. Friedman, Daniel, 1991. "Evolutionary Games in Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 637-66, May.
  6. Georg Kirchsteiger, 1994. "The role of envy in ultimatum games," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5925, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Bolton Gary E. & Zwick Rami, 1995. "Anonymity versus Punishment in Ultimatum Bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 95-121, July.
  8. 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.
  9. Steffen Huck & Georg Kirchsteiger & Jörg Oechssler, 2003. "Learning to Like What You Have - Explaining the Endowment Effect," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse5_2003, University of Bonn, Germany.
  10. G. Noldeke & L. Samuelson, 2010. "An Evolutionary Analysis of Backward and Forward Induction," Levine's Working Paper Archive 538, David K. Levine.
  11. Samuelson, Larry & Zhang, Jianbo, 1992. "Evolutionary stability in asymmetric games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 363-391, August.
  12. Harrison, Glenn W & McCabe, Kevin A, 1996. "Expectations and Fairness in a Simple Bargaining Experiment," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 303-27.
  13. Prasnikar, Vesna & Roth, Alvin E, 1992. "Considerations of Fairness and Strategy: Experimental Data from Sequential Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(3), pages 865-88, August.
  14. Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "The Ultimatum Game," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 195-206, Fall.
  15. Gale, John & Binmore, Kenneth G. & Samuelson, Larry, 1995. "Learning to be imperfect: The ultimatum game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 56-90.
  16. Becker, Gary S, 1976. "Altruism, Egoism, and Genetic Fitness: Economics and Sociobiology," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 817-26, September.
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