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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, 2011. "The Visible Hand: Finger Ratio (2D:4D) and Competitive Bidding," Working Papers 119, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  2. David Cesarini & Christopher T. Dawes & Magnus Johannesson & Paul Lichtenstein & Björn Wallace, 2009. "Genetic Variation in Preferences for Giving and Risk Taking," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 809-842, May.
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  16. Wozniak, David, 2009. "Choices About Competition: Differences by gender and hormonal fluctuations, and the role of relative performance feedback," MPRA Paper 21097, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  17. Thomas Buser, 2010. "Handedness predicts Social Preferences: Evidence connecting the Lab to the Field," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 10-119/3, Tinbergen Institute.
  18. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
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