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Homo Æqualis: A Cross-Society Experimental Analysis of Three Bargaining Games

  • Abigail Barr
  • Chris Wallace
  • Jean Ensminger
  • Joseph Henrich
  • Clark Barrette
  • Alexander Bolyanatz
  • Juan Camilo Cardenas
  • Michael Gurven
  • Edwins Gwako
  • Carolyn Lesorogol
  • Frank Marlowe
  • Richard McElreath
  • David Tracer
  • John Ziker

Data from three bargaining games-the Dictator Game, the Ultimatum Game, and the Third-Party Punishment Game-played in 15 societies are presented. The societies range from US undergraduates to Amazonian, Arctic, and African hunter-gatherers. Behaviour within the games varies markedly across societies. The paper investigates whether this behavioural diversity can be explained solely by variations in inequality aversion. Combining a single parameter utility function with the notion of subgame perfection generates a number of testable predictions. While most of these are supported, there are some telling divergences between theory and data: uncertainty and preferences relating to acts of vengeance may have influenced play in the Ultimatum and Third-Party Punishment Games; and a few subjects used the games as an opportunity to engage in costly signalling.

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File URL: http://www.csae.ox.ac.uk/workingpapers/pdfs/2009-02text.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford in its series CSAE Working Paper Series with number 2009-02.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:csa:wpaper:2009-02
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  1. Armin Falk & Urs Fischbacher, . "A Theory of Reciprocity," IEW - Working Papers 006, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  2. Charness, Gary B & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences With Simple Tests," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0dc3k4m5, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  3. James Andreoni & Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2005. "Revealing Preferences for Fairness in Ultimatum Bargaining," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 666156000000000644, www.najecon.org.
  4. James Andreoni & Marco Castillo & Ragan Petrie, 2003. "What Do Bargainers' Preferences Look Like? Experiments with a Convex Ultimatum Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(3), pages 672-685, June.
  5. Dufwenberg, M. & Kirchsteiger, G., 1998. "A Theory of Sequential Reciprocity," Discussion Paper 1998-37, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  6. Alvin E. Roth & V. Prasnikar & M. Okuno-Fujiwara & S. Zamir, 1998. "Bargaining and market behavior in Jerusalem, Liubljana, Pittsburgh and Tokyo: an experimental study," Levine's Working Paper Archive 344, David K. Levine.
  7. M. Rabin, 2001. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Levine's Working Paper Archive 511, David K. Levine.
  8. Joseph Henrich, 2001. "In Search of Homo Economicus: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-Scale Societies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(2), pages 73-78, May.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Third-party punishment and social norms," Experimental 0409002, EconWPA.
  10. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
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