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The Ultimatum Game and Expected Utility Maximization – In View of Attachment Theory

Author

Listed:
  • Shaul Almakias

    (Finance Ministry, Israel)

  • Avi Weiss

    () (Bar-Ilan University)

Abstract

In this paper we import a mainstream psycholgical theory, known as attachment theory, into economics and show the implications of this theory for economic behavior by individuals in the ultimatum bargaining game. Attachment theory examines the psychological tendency to seek proximity to another person, to feel secure when that person is present, and to feel anxious when that person is absent. An individual's attachment style can be classified along two-dimensional axes, one representing attachment "avoidance" and one representing attachment "anxiety". Avoidant people generally feel discomfort when being close to others, have trouble trusting people and distance themselves from intimate or revealing situations. Anxious people have a fear of abandonment and of not being loved. Utilizing attachment theory, we evaluate the connection between attachment types and economic decision making, and find that in an Ultimatum Game both proposers' and responders' behavior can be explained by their attachment styles, as explained by the theory. We believe this theory has implications for economic behavior in different settings, such as negotiations, in general, and more specifically, may help explain behavior, and perhaps even anomalies, in other experimental settings.

Suggested Citation

  • Shaul Almakias & Avi Weiss, 2010. "The Ultimatum Game and Expected Utility Maximization – In View of Attachment Theory," Working Papers 2010-01, Bar-Ilan University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:biu:wpaper:2010-01
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    File URL: http://www.biu.ac.il/soc/ec/wp/2010-01.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Attachment Theory; Experimental Economics; Behavioral Economics; Ultimatum Game; Psychology and Economics;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory

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