Affect and fairness: Dictator games under cognitive load
We investigate the impact of affect and deliberation on other-regarding decisions. In our laboratory experiment subjects decide on a series of mini-Dictator games while under varying degrees of cognitive load. Cognitive load is intended to decrease deliberation and therefore enhance the influence of affect on behavior. In each game subjects have two options: they can decide between a fair and an unfair allocation. We find that subjects in a high-load condition are more generous – they more often choose the fair allocation than subjects in a low-load condition. The series of mini-Dictator games also allows us to investigate how subjects react to the games’ varying levels of advantageous inequality. Low-load subjects react considerably more to the degree of advantageous inequality. Our results underscore the importance of affect for basic altruistic behavior and deliberation in adjusting decisions to a given situation.
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