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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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  • Sutter, Matthias, 2007. "Outcomes versus intentions: On the nature of fair behavior and its development with age," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 69-78, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:28:y:2007:i:1:p:69-78

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    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
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    6. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
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    8. 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, May.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Gary Bolton & Axel Ockenfels, 2005. "A stress test of fairness measures in models of social utility," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 25(4), pages 957-982, June.
    13. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
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