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Cultural Values and Behavior in Dictator, Ultimatum, and Trust Games: An Experimental Study

In: Experimental Economics and Culture

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  • Sun-Ki Chai
  • Dolgorsuren Dorj
  • Katerina Sherstyuk

Abstract

Culture is a central concept broadly studied in social anthropology and sociology. It has been gaining increasing attention in economics, appearing in research on labor market discrimination, identity, gender, and social preferences. Most experimental economics research on culture studies cross-national or cross-ethnic differences in economic behavior. In contrast, we explain laboratory behavior using two cultural dimensions adopted from a prominent general cultural framework in contemporary social anthropology: group commitment and grid control. Groupness measures the extent to which individual identity is incorporated into group or collective identity; gridness measures the extent to which social and political prescriptions intrinsically influence individual behavior. Grid-group characteristics are measured for each individual using selected items from the World Values Survey. We hypothesize that these attributes allow us to systematically predict behavior in a way that discriminates among multiple forms of social preferences using a simple, parsimonious deductive model. The theoretical predictions are further tested in the economics laboratory by applying them to the dictator, ultimatum, and trust games. We find that these predictions are confirmed overall for most experimental games, although the strength of empirical support varies across games. We conclude that grid-group cultural theory is a viable predictor of people’s economic behavior, then discuss potential limitations of the current approach and ways to improve it.

Suggested Citation

  • Sun-Ki Chai & Dolgorsuren Dorj & Katerina Sherstyuk, 2018. "Cultural Values and Behavior in Dictator, Ultimatum, and Trust Games: An Experimental Study," Research in Experimental Economics, in: Anna Gunnthorsdottir & Douglas A. Norton (ed.), Experimental Economics and Culture, volume 20, pages 89-166, Emerald Publishing Ltd.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:rexezz:s0193-230620180000020005
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    Cited by:

    1. Marion Payen & Patrick Rondé, 2020. "Culture, Institutions and Economic Growth," Working Papers of BETA 2020-18, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Laboratory experiment; two-person games; survey; culture; grid-group typology; social preferences; C7; C91; Z1;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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