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Playing a Game or Making a Decision? Methodological Issues in the Measurement of Distributional Preferences

Author

Listed:
  • Matthias Greiff

    () (Institute of Management and Economics, Clausthal University of Technology, Julius-Albert-Str. 2, 38678 Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Germany
    These authors contributed equally to this work.)

  • Kurt A. Ackermann

    () (ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Stadthausstrasse 14, 8400 Winterthur, Switzerland
    These authors contributed equally to this work.)

  • Ryan O. Murphy

    () (Department of Economics, University of Zurich, Blümlisalpstrasse 10, 8006 Zurich, Switzerland
    These authors contributed equally to this work.)

Abstract

In terms of role assignment and informational characteristics, different contexts have been used when measuring distributional preferences. This could be problematic as contextual variance may inadvertently muddle the measurement process. We use a within-subjects design and systemically vary role assignment as well as the way information is displayed to subjects when measuring distributional preferences in resource allocation tasks as well as proper games. Specifically we examine choice behavior in the contexts of role certainty, role uncertainty, decomposed games, and matrix games. Results show that there is large heterogeneity in the choices people make when deciding how to allocate resources between themselves and some other person under different contextual frames. For instance, people make more prosocial choices under role uncertainty as compared to role certainty. Furthermore, altering the way information is displayed given a particular situation can have a more dramatic effect on choice behavior than altering the situation itself. That is, depending on how information is displayed, people may behave as if they would perform a non-strategic decision making task when in fact they are playing a proper game characterized by strategic interdependence.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthias Greiff & Kurt A. Ackermann & Ryan O. Murphy, 2018. "Playing a Game or Making a Decision? Methodological Issues in the Measurement of Distributional Preferences," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(4), pages 1-25, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jgames:v:9:y:2018:i:4:p:80-:d:174482
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    distributional preferences; framing; individual differences; other regarding preferences; social preferences; Social Value Orientation (SVO);

    JEL classification:

    • C - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games

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