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Digit ratios, the menstrual cycle and social preferences

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  • Buser, Thomas

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Buser, Thomas, 2012. "Digit ratios, the menstrual cycle and social preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 457-470.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:76:y:2012:i:2:p:457-470
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2012.07.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chen, Yan & Katuščák, Peter & Ozdenoren, Emre, 2013. "Why canʼt a woman bid more like a man?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 181-213.
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    Cited by:

    1. Judit Alonso & Roberto Di Paolo & Giovanni Ponti & Marcello Sartarelli, 2017. "Some (Mis)facts about 2D:4D, Preferences and Personality," Working Papers. Serie AD 2017-08, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
    2. repec:eee:eecrev:v:101:y:2018:i:c:p:35-56 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Dalton, P.S. & Ghosal, S., 2014. "Self-Confidence, Overconfidence and Prenatal Testorone Exposure : Evidence from the Lab," Discussion Paper 2014-014, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    4. Neyse, Levent & Ring, Patrick & Bosworth, Steven, 2015. "Prenatal testosterone exposure predicts mindfulness: Does this mediate its effect on happiness?," Kiel Working Papers 1999, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    5. Pearson, Matthew & Schipper, Burkhard C., 2013. "Menstrual cycle and competitive bidding," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 1-20.
    6. Rau, Holger & Müller, Stephan, 2017. "Decisions under Uncertainty in Social Contexts," Annual Conference 2017 (Vienna): Alternative Structures for Money and Banking 168228, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Burkhard Schipper, 2012. "Sex Hormones and Choice under Risk," Working Papers 127, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
    8. Miguel Pita & Maria Arjona & Santiago Sanchez-Pages & Enrique Turiegano, 2013. "Who is the fairest of them all? The independent effect of attractive features and self-perceived attractiveness on cooperation among women," ESE Discussion Papers 234, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    9. Güth, Werner & Kocher, Martin G., 2014. "More than thirty years of ultimatum bargaining experiments: Motives, variations, and a survey of the recent literature," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 396-409.
    10. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Espín, Antonio M. & Garcia, Teresa & Kovářík, Jaromír, 2018. "Digit ratio (2D:4D) predicts pro-social behavior in economic games only for unsatisfied individuals," MPRA Paper 86166, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. Pablo Branas-Garza & Jaromir Kovarik & Levent Neyse, 2013. "Second-to-Fourth Digit Ratio has a Non-Monotonic Impact on Altruism," Working Papers 13-09, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    12. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Jaromír Kovárík, 2013. "Digit Ratios and Social Preferences: A Comment on Buser (2012)," Working Papers 13-31, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    13. Müller, Stephan & Rau, Holger A., 2017. "Too cold for warm glow? Christmas-season effects in charitable giving," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 331, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    14. Patricio S. Dalton & Sayantan Ghosal, 2014. "Self-Confidence, Overconfidence and Prenatal Testosterone Exposure: Evidence from the Lab," Working Papers 2014_02, Business School - Economics, University of Glasgow.
    15. Galizzi, Matteo M. & Nieboer, Jeroen, 2015. "Digit ratio (2D:4D) and altruism: evidence from a large, multi-ethnic sample," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60982, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    16. Chen, Yan & Katuščák, Peter & Ozdenoren, Emre, 2013. "Why canʼt a woman bid more like a man?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 181-213.
    17. Müller, Stephan & Rau, Holger A., 2017. "Decisions under uncertainty in social contexts," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 290, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    18. Neyse, Levent & Friedl, Andreas & Schmidt, Ulrich, 2014. "Payment Scheme Changes and Effort Provision: The Effect of Digit Ratio," MPRA Paper 59549, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    2D:4D; Menstrual cycle; Endocrinological economics; Trust; Altruism; Reciprocity; Lab experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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