IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this article or follow this journal

Strategic and social pre-play communication in the ultimatum game

  • Zultan, Ro’i

Pre-play face-to-face communication is known to facilitate cooperation. Various explanations exist for this effect, varying in their dependence on the strategic content of the communication. Previous studies have found similar communication effects regardless of whether strategic communication is available. These results were so far taken to support a social-preferences based explanation of the communication effects. The current experiment provides a replication and extension of previous results to show that different processes come into play, depending on the communication protocol. Specifically, pre-play communication in an ultimatum game was either restricted to non-game-related content or unrestricted. The results show that strategic, but not social, communication affects responders’ strategies. Thus, the existing results are cast in a new light. I conclude that pre-play communication effects may be mediated by qualitatively different processes, depending on the social context.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

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

Volume (Year): 33 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 425-434

in new window

Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:3:p:425-434
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Carsten Schmidt & Matthias Sutter & Werner Guth, 2003. "Fairness in the mail and opportunism in the internet - a newspaper experiment on ultimatum bargaining," Artefactual Field Experiments 00051, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Buchan, Nancy R. & Johnson, Eric J. & Croson, Rachel T.A., 2006. "Let's get personal: An international examination of the influence of communication, culture and social distance on other regarding preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 373-398, July.
  3. Matthew Rabin., 1991. "Cognitive Dissonance and Social Change," Economics Working Papers 91-180, University of California at Berkeley.
  4. Binmore, Ken, 1999. "Why Experiment in Economics?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(453), pages F16-24, February.
  5. Hessel Oosterbeek & Randolph Sloof & Gijs van de Kuilen, 2004. "Cultural Differences in Ultimatum Game Experiments: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 7(2), pages 171-188, 06.
  6. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 1998. "Hot vs. cold: Sequential responses and preference stability in experimental games," Economics Working Papers 321, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  7. Bahry, Donna L. & Wilson, Rick K., 2006. "Confusion or fairness in the field? Rejections in the ultimatum game under the strategy method," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(1), pages 37-54, May.
  8. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  9. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
  10. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2006. "Promises and Partnership," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(6), pages 1579-1601, November.
  11. Huck, Steffen, 1999. "Responder behavior in ultimatum offer games with incomplete information," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 183-206, April.
  12. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2007. "Guilt in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 170-176, May.
  13. Johannesson, Magnus & Persson, Bjorn, 2000. "Non-reciprocal altruism in dictator games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 69(2), pages 137-142, November.
  14. Carsten Schmidt & Ro'i Zultan, 2005. "The Uncontrolled Social Utility Hypothesis Revisited," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(33), pages 1-7.
  15. Koukoumelis, Anastasios & Levati, M. Vittoria & Weisser, Johannes, 2012. "Leading by words: A voluntary contribution experiment with one-way communication," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 379-390.
  16. Charness, Gary B & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2006. "Promises & Partnership," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0127h86v, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  17. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Axel Ockenfels, 2003. "The Effect of Communication Media on Cooperation," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 4(2), pages 217-241, 05.
  18. Rigdon, Mary & Ishii, Keiko & Watabe, Motoki & Kitayama, Shinobu, 2008. "Minimal Social Cues in the Dictator Game," MPRA Paper 8439, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  19. Bohnet, Iris & Frey, Bruno S., 1999. "The sound of silence in prisoner's dilemma and dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 43-57, January.
  20. Christoph Vanberg, 2008. "Why Do People Keep Their Promises? An Experimental Test of Two Explanations -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(6), pages 1467-1480, November.
  21. Kevin McCabe & Elizabeth Hoffman & Vernon L. Smith, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 340-341, March.
  22. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  23. Ben Greiner & Werner Güth & Ro'i Zultan, 2010. "Social Communication and Discrimination: A Video Experiment," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-038, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  24. Burnham, Terence C., 2003. "Engineering altruism: a theoretical and experimental investigation of anonymity and gift giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 133-144, January.
  25. Schmidt, Carsten & Zultan, Ro'i, 2005. "The uncontrolled social utility hypothesis revisited," Papers 05-29, Sonderforschungsbreich 504.
  26. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2011. "The strategy versus the direct-response method: a first survey of experimental comparisons," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 375-398, September.
  27. Elizabeth Hoffman & Matthew Spitzer, 1981. "The Coase Theorem: Some Experimental Tests," Discussion Papers 470, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  28. James Konow, 2000. "Fair Shares: Accountability and Cognitive Dissonance in Allocation Decisions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 1072-1091, September.
  29. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  30. Radner, Roy & Schotter, Andrew, 1987. "The Sealed-Bid Mechanism: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 87-41, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  31. Andreoni, James & Rao, Justin M., 2011. "The power of asking: How communication affects selfishness, empathy, and altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 513-520.
  32. Bruno S. Frey & Iris Bohnet, 1999. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 335-339, March.
  33. Kogut, Tehila & Ritov, Ilana, 2005. "The singularity effect of identified victims in separate and joint evaluations," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 106-116, July.
  34. Mitzkewitz, Michael & Nagel, Rosemarie, 1993. "Experimental Results on Ultimatum Games with Incomplete Information," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 171-98.
  35. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "What's in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-35, October.
  36. Hennig-Schmidt, Heike & Li, Zhu-Yu & Yang, Chaoliang, 2008. "Why people reject advantageous offers--Non-monotonic strategies in ultimatum bargaining: Evaluating a video experiment run in PR China," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(2), pages 373-384, February.
  37. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  38. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2005:i:33:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
  39. Werner Güth & Steffen Huck, 1997. "From Ultimatum Bargaining to Dictatorship—an Experimental Study of Four Games Varying in Veto Power," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(3), pages 262-299, October.
  40. Kenneth Clark & Stephen Kay & Martin Sefton, 2001. "When are Nash equilibria self-enforcing? An experimental analysis," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 495-515.
  41. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  42. repec:oup:qjecon:v:117:y:2002:i:3:p:817-869 is not listed on IDEAS
  43. Raghuram Iyengar & Andrew Schotter, 2008. "Learning under supervision: an experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 154-173, June.
  44. Jenni, Karen E & Loewenstein, George, 1997. "Explaining the "Identifiable Victim Effect."," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 235-57, May-June.
  45. Mohlin, Erik & Johannesson, Magnus, 2008. "Communication: Content or relationship?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 409-419, March.
  46. Charness, Gary, 2000. "Self-Serving Cheap Talk: A Test Of Aumann's Conjecture," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 177-194, November.
  47. Jeanette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Chun-Lei Yang, 2004. "Communication, Reputation, and Punishment in Sequential Bargaining Experiments," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 160(4), pages 576-, December.
  48. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Promises, Threats and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 397-420, 04.
  49. Blume, Andreas & Ortmann, Andreas, 2007. "The effects of costless pre-play communication: Experimental evidence from games with Pareto-ranked equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 274-290, January.
  50. Gary E Bolton & Rami Zuwick, 2010. "Anonymity versus punishments in ultimatum bargaining," Levine's Working Paper Archive 826, David K. Levine.
  51. repec:oup:qjecon:v:114:y:1999:i:3:p:817-868 is not listed on IDEAS
  52. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-60, June.
  53. Crawford, Vincent, 1998. "A Survey of Experiments on Communication via Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 286-298, February.
  54. Small, Deborah A & Loewenstein, George, 2003. " Helping a Victim or Helping the Victim: Altruism and Identifiability," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 5-16, January.
  55. Eckel, Catherine C & Grossman, Philip J, 2001. "Chivalry and Solidarity in Ultimatum Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 39(2), pages 171-88, April.
  56. Dufwenberg, Martin & Muren, Astri, 2006. "Generosity, anonymity, gender," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 42-49, September.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:33:y:2012:i:3:p:425-434. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.