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Anomalies: Ultimatums, Dictators and Manners

  • Colin F. Camerer
  • Richard H. Thaler

The recent research on ultimatum and dictator games is reviewed. New experiments reveal that the ultimatum game is quite robust to changes in stakes and the nationality of the players but dictator games are sensitive to many design features. Information in the ultimatum game is important. Responders will reject offers only if they are known to be proportionally stingy and are known to be chosen by the proposer (rather than picked at random). Much of the observed behavior can be successfully modeled using Matthew Rabin's (1993) notion of a fairness equilibrium, which incorporates manners into economics. In many market contexts, politeness pays.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 9 (1995)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 209-219

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:9:y:1995:i:2:p:209-19
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.2.209
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  1. Mitzkewitz, Michael & Nagel, Rosemarie, 1993. "Experimental Results on Ultimatum Games with Incomplete Information," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 171-98.
  2. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  3. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  4. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1986. "Fairness and the Assumptions of Economics," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S285-300, October.
  5. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  6. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1990. "The Fair Wage-Effort Hypothesis and Unemployment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 105(2), pages 255-83, May.
  7. 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.
  8. Bolton, Gary E, 1991. "A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1096-136, December.
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