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Outcomes versus intentions: On the nature of fair behavior and its development with age

  • Sutter, Matthias

Economic decisions depend on both actual outcomes as well as perceived intentions. In this paper, we examine whether and how the relative importance of outcomes or intentions for economic decisions develops with age. We report the results of ultimatum games with children, teens and university students. We find that children and teens react systematically to perceived intentions, like university students do. However, children and teens reject unequal offers much more often than university students, indicating that outcomes are relatively more important than intentions for younger subjects. Hence, the relative importance of intentions increases with age.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Psychology.

Volume (Year): 28 (2007)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 69-78

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Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:28:y:2007:i:1:p:69-78
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/joep

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  1. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., . "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Chapters in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Werner Güth & Carsten Schmidt & Matthias Sutter, 2003. "Fairness in the Mail and Opportunism in the Internet: A Newspaper Experiment on Ultimatum Bargaining," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 4(2), pages 243-265, 05.
  3. J.Keith Murnighan & MIchael Saxon, 1998. "Ultimatum bargaining by children and adults," Artefactual Field Experiments 00100, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. McCabe, Kevin A. & Rigdon, Mary L. & Smith, Vernon L., 2003. "Positive reciprocity and intentions in trust games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(2), pages 267-275, October.
  5. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  6. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "On the Nature of Fair Behaviour," CEPR Discussion Papers 2984, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Gary Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 2005. "A stress test of fairness measures in models of social utility," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 957-982, 06.
  8. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2001. "A Theory of Reciprocity," CEPR Discussion Papers 3014, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  9. Nelson, William Jr., 2002. "Equity or intention: it is the thought that counts," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 48(4), pages 423-430, August.
  10. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
  11. Burnham, Terence & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L., 2000. "Friend-or-foe intentionality priming in an extensive form trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 57-73, September.
  12. Murnighan, J. Keith & Saxon, Michael Scott, 1998. "Ultimatum bargaining by children and adults," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 415-445, August.
  13. Charness, Gary & Levine, David I., 2003. "The Road to Hell: An Experimental Study of Intentions," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt4xs9d0nz, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  14. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
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