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Reciprocity—an indirect evolutionary analysis

  • Siegfried Berninghaus

    ()

  • Christian Korth

    ()

  • Stefan Napel

    ()

This paper investigates strategic interaction between rational agents whose preferences evolve over time. Players face a pecuniary 'game of life' comprising the ultimatum game and the dictator game. Utility may but need not be attached to the reciprocation of fair and unfair play by the opponent and equitable payoff distributions as proposed by Falk and Fischbacher (2001). Evolutionary fitness is determined solely by material success - regardless of the motives for its achievement. Agents cannot explicitly condition the social component of their preferences on whether they face the ultimatum or dictator game. Under these conditions, agents develop a strong preference for reciprocation but little interest in an equitable distribution as such. This corresponds to equitable ultimatum offers but full surplus appropriation by dictators. Adding an exogenous constraint on the possible divergence between preference for reciprocation and for an equitable distribution either makes ultimatum divisions asymmetric or dictators become generous depending on the relative frequency of ultimatum and dictator interaction.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00191-006-0053-1
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Journal of Evolutionary Economics.

Volume (Year): 17 (2007)
Issue (Month): 5 (October)
Pages: 579-603

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Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:17:y:2007:i:5:p:579-603
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