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Altruism or Artefact? A Note on Dictator Game Giving

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  • Nicholas Bardsley

    () (CeDEx, Nottingham School of Economics, University of Nottingham)

Abstract

Experimental dictator games have been used to explore unselfish behaviour. Evidence is presented here, however, that subjects’ generosity can be reversed by allowing them to take money from a partner. Dictator game giving therefore does not stem from orthodox social preferences. It can be interpreted plausibly as an artefact of experimentation. Alternatively the evaluation of an action depends on the composition of the choice set. Implications of these possibilities are explored for experimental methodology and charitable donations respectively. The artefact interpretation is empirically superior, and implies that researchers should investigate demand characteristics of experimental protocols.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Bardsley, 2005. "Altruism or Artefact? A Note on Dictator Game Giving," Discussion Papers 2005-10, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  • Handle: RePEc:cdx:dpaper:2005-10
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    Cited by:

    1. Rode, Julian & Le Menestrel, Marc, 2011. "The influence of decision power on distributive fairness," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 79(3), pages 246-255, August.
    2. Pieter Gautier & Bas van der Klaauw, 2006. "Grow rich while you sleep: Selection in experiments with voluntary participation," Natural Field Experiments 00245, The Field Experiments Website.
    3. Hayat Khan, 2009. "Modeling Social Preferences: A Generalized Model of Inequity Aversion," EERI Research Paper Series EERI_RP_2009_21, Economics and Econometrics Research Institute (EERI), Brussels.
    4. Stanton, Angela A., 2006. "Evolving Economics: Synthesis," MPRA Paper 767, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 09 Nov 2006.
    5. Robin Cubitt & Michalis Drouvelis & Simon Gächter, 2011. "Framing and free riding: emotional responses and punishment in social dilemma games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(2), pages 254-272, May.
    6. Stahl, Dale O. & Haruvy, Ernan, 2008. "Subgame perfection in ultimatum bargaining trees," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 63(1), pages 292-307, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; artificiality; experiments; methodology;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • 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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