IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Self-serving interpretations of ambiguity in other-regarding behavior

Listed author(s):
  • Haisley, Emily C.
  • Weber, Roberto A.

We demonstrate that people can adopt a favorable view of ambiguous risks relative to ones with known probabilities, contrary to the usual attitude of ambiguity aversion, when doing so permits justification for unfair behavior. We use binary dictator games involving a choice between a relatively equitable allocation and an "unfair" allocation that is both less generous and makes the recipient's payment dependent on a p=0.5 lottery. Dictators choose the unfair option more frequently when the recipient's allocation depends on an ambiguous lottery than on a lottery with a known probability -- even though the objective distributions of outcomes are identical under the two kinds of lotteries. Dictators' estimates of the expected value of the recipients' allocations are inflated under ambiguity, indicating that dictators form self-serving beliefs about ambiguity. Finally, increased unfair behavior under ambiguity is extinguished when dictators are constrained by their own initial unmotivated, and negative, attitudes towards ambiguity.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899-8256(09)00164-X
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 68 (2010)
Issue (Month): 2 (March)
Pages: 614-625

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:2:p:614-625
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
  3. Ghirardato, Paolo & Marinacci, Massimo, 2002. "Ambiguity Made Precise: A Comparative Foundation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 102(2), pages 251-289, February.
  4. Jean Tirole & Roland Bénabou, 2006. "Incentives and Prosocial Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1652-1678, December.
  5. 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 285-300, October.
  6. Dawes, Robyn M & Thaler, Richard H, 1988. "Anomalies: Cooperation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 187-197, Summer.
  7. Schweitzer, Maurice E & Hsee, Christopher K, 2002. "Stretching the Truth: Elastic Justification and Motivated Communication of Uncertain Information," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 185-201, September.
  8. Sarin, Rakesh & Wakker, Peter P, 1998. "Revealed Likelihood and Knightian Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 223-250, July-Aug..
  9. Rakesh K. Sarin & Martin Weber, 1993. "Effects of Ambiguity in Market Experiments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 39(5), pages 602-615, May.
  10. Craig R. Fox & Amos Tversky, 1995. "Ambiguity Aversion and Comparative Ignorance," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 585-603.
  11. Gary Charness & Uri Gneezy, 2010. "Portfolio Choice And Risk Attitudes: An Experiment," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(1), pages 133-146, January.
  12. Rustichini, Aldo & Dickhaut, John & Ghirardato, Paolo & Smith, Kip & Pardo, Jose V., 2005. "A brain imaging study of the choice procedure," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 257-282, August.
  13. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  14. 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.
  15. Murnighan, J. Keith & Oesch, John M. & Pillutla, Madan, 2001. "Player Types and Self-Impression Management in Dictatorship Games: Two Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(2), pages 388-414, November.
  16. Babcock, Linda, et al, 1995. "Biased Judgments of Fairness in Bargaining," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1337-1343, December.
  17. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. "Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-370, October.
  18. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  19. Larry G. Epstein, 1999. "A Definition of Uncertainty Aversion," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(3), pages 579-608.
  20. Ho, Joanna L Y & Keller, L Robin & Keltyka, Pamela, 2002. "Effects of Outcome and Probabilistic Ambiguity on Managerial Choices," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 47-74, January.
  21. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
  22. Luís Santos-Pinto & Joel Sobel, 2005. "A Model of Positive Self-Image in Subjective Assessments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1386-1402, December.
  23. Wade-Benzoni, Kimberly A. & Tenbrunsel, Ann E. & Bazerman, Max H., 1996. "Egocentric Interpretations of Fairness in Asymmetric, Environmental Social Dilemmas: Explaining Harvesting Behavior and the Role of Communication," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 111-126, August.
  24. Einhorn, Hillel J & Hogarth, Robin M, 1986. "Decision Making under Ambiguity," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 225-250, October.
  25. Schmeidler, David, 1989. "Subjective Probability and Expected Utility without Additivity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 57(3), pages 571-587, May.
  26. Vernon L. Smith, 1969. "Measuring Nonmonetary Utilities in Uncertain Choices: The Ellsberg Urn," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(2), pages 324-329.
  27. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
  28. Heath, Chip & Tversky, Amos, 1991. "Preference and Belief: Ambiguity and Competence in Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-28, January.
  29. Dana, Jason & Cain, Daylian M. & Dawes, Robyn M., 2006. "What you don't know won't hurt me: Costly (but quiet) exit in dictator games," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 100(2), pages 193-201, July.
  30. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:68:y:2010:i:2:p:614-625. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.