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Digit ratios, the menstrual cycle and social preferences

  • Buser, Thomas

We examine whether social preferences are partially determined by biological factors. We do this by investigating whether digit ratios (2D:4D) and menstrual cycle information are correlated with choices in ultimatum, trust, public good and dictator games. Digit ratios are thought to be a proxy for prenatal testosterone and oestrogen exposure and the menstrual cycle is a proxy for contemporary variations in a range of hormones. We find that digit ratios predict giving in all games. In our preferred specification, giving in the trust and public good games as well as reciprocity in the trust and ultimatum games vary significantly over the menstrual cycle. We discuss possible mechanisms behind these effects and conclude that biological factors play an important role in shaping social preferences.

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

Volume (Year): 76 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 457-470

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:76:y:2012:i:2:p:457-470
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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  1. Matthew Pearson & Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "The visible hand: finger ratio (2D:4D) and competitive bidding," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 15(3), pages 510-529, September.
  2. Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann & Christian Thöni, 2010. "Culture and Cooperation," CESifo Working Paper Series 3070, CESifo Group Munich.
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    • Simon Gaechter & Benedikt Herrmann & Christian Thoeni, 2010. "Culture and Cooperation," Discussion Papers 2010-09, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Bjorn Bartling & Ernst Fehr & Michel Andre Marechal & Daniel Schunk, 2009. "Egalitarianism and Competitiveness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 93-98, May.
  4. Buser, Thomas, 2012. "The impact of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptives on competitiveness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 1-10.
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  13. repec:dgr:uvatin:2010119 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
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  16. Ellen Garbarino & Robert Slonim & Justin Sydnor, 2011. "Digit ratios (2D:4D) as predictors of risky decision making for both sexes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 42(1), pages 1-26, February.
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