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On the Nature of Fair Behavior

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  • Armin Falk
  • Ernst Fehr
  • Urs Fischbacher

Abstract

This paper shows that identical offers in an ultimatum game generate systematically different rejection rates depending on the other offers that are available to the proposer. This result casts doubt on the consequentialist practice in economics to define the utility of an action solely in terms of the consequences of the action irrespective of the set of alternatives. It means, in particular, that negatively reciprocal behavior cannot be fully captured by equity models that are exclusively based on preferences over the distribution of material payoffs. Models that take into account players’ fairness intentions and distributional preferences are consistent with our data while models that focus exclusively on intentions or on the distribution of material payoffs are not.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 017.

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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:017

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Keywords: Fairness; reciprocity; intentions; experiments; ultimatum game;

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  1. Güth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Müller, Wieland, 1998. "The relevance of equal splits: On a behavioral discontinuity in ultimatum games," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 1998,7, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
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  9. 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.
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  19. Gary Charness, 1996. "Attribution and reciprocity in a simulated labor market: An experimental investigation," Economics Working Papers 283, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Oct 1997.
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  21. Blount, Sally, 1995. "When Social Outcomes Aren't Fair: The Effect of Causal Attributions on Preferences," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 63(2), pages 131-144, August.
  22. Colin F. Camerer & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Anomalies: Ultimatums, Dictators and Manners," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-219, Spring.
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  24. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  25. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  26. repec:fth:prinin:345 is not listed on IDEAS
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