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The role of attribution of causality in economic decision making

  • Gurevich, Gregory
  • Kliger, Doron
  • Weiner, Bernard

Research has established that economic decisions often deviate from game theoretic predictions. We explore the process of causal thinking as a possible explanation for such deviations. Specifically, we suggest that causal information affects economic decisions based on the principles advocated by Weiner's (1985, 1986) attribution theory (AT) of motivation and emotion. Prior research in this area considered only subsets of the dimensions employed by the theory. We test the predictions stemming from AT in contexts where economic decisions involve sharing gains between party members (e.g., splitting profits) and assess how such decisions are affected by the reasons attributed for obtaining the gains. Results indicate a significant link between causal attribution and economic decisions and shed light on the rules and the rationale that guide this link. We conclude that research into economic decision making should pay a greater attention to the explanatory value of AT.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 41 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
Pages: 439-444

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:41:y:2012:i:4:p:439-444
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

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  1. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  2. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "The relative price of fairness: gender differences in a punishment game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 143-158, August.
  3. DiFonzo, Nicholas & Bordia, Prashant, 2002. "Rumors and stable-cause attribution in prediction and behavior," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 88(2), pages 785-800, July.
  4. 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.
  5. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  6. Messick, David M., 1999. "Alternative logics for decision making in social settings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 11-28, May.
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