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Does Generosity Generate Generosity? An Experimental Study of Reputation Effects in a Dictator Game

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Abstract

This paper explores how information about paired subject's previous action affects one's own behavior in a dictator game. The first experiment puts dictators in two environments where they can either give money to the paired player or take money away from them: one where the recipient is a stranger and the other where the dictator has information on the recipient's reputation. Contrary to anecdotal evidence, the statistical tests show that the dictator's behavior toward a stranger is not statistically significantly different from their behavior toward an individual with an established reputation. The findings arise because a high proportion of dictators acted purely in their own self interest in both treatments. In the second experiment the dictators' choices were restricted to only generous actions. In such environment the dictators sent more money on average to recipients with a reputation for being generous than to recipients without a reputation.

Suggested Citation

  • Maroš Servátka, 2007. "Does Generosity Generate Generosity? An Experimental Study of Reputation Effects in a Dictator Game," Working Papers in Economics 07/03, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbt:econwp:07/03
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    Cited by:

    1. Herne, Kaisa & Lappalainen, Olli & Kestilä-Kekkonen, Elina, 2013. "Experimental comparison of direct, general, and indirect reciprocity," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 38-46.
    2. Servátka, Maroš & Tucker, Steven & Vadovič, Radovan, 2011. "Words speak louder than money," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(5), pages 700-709.
    3. Tammi, Timo, 2013. "Dictator game giving and norms of redistribution: Does giving in the dictator game parallel with the supporting of income redistribution in the field?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 44-48.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Experimental economics; dictator game; indirect reciprocity; reputation; generosity;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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