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Two Studies on the Interplay between Social Preferences and Individual Biological Features

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Abstract

Biological features and social preferences have been studied separately as factors influencing human strategic behaviour. We run two studies in order to explore the interplay between these two sets of factors. In the first study, we investigate to what extent social preferences may have some biological underpinnings. We use simple one-shot distribution experiments to attribute subjects one out of four types of social preferences: Self-interested (SI), Competitive (C), Inequality averse (IA) and Efficiency-seeking (ES). We then investigate whether these four groups display differences in their levels of facial Fluctuating Asymmetry (FA) and in proxies for exposure to testosterone during phoetal development and puberty. We observe that development-related biological features and social preferences are relatively independent. In the second study, we compare the relative weight of these two set of factors by studying how they affect subjects' behaviour in the Ultimatum Game (UG). We find differences in offers made and rejection rates across the four social preference groups. The effect of social preferences is stronger than the effect of biological features even though the latter is significant. We also report a novel link between facial masculinity (a proxy for exposure to testosterone during puberty) and rejection rates in the UG. Our results suggest that biological features influence behaviour both directly and through their relation with the type of social preferences that individuals hold.

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  • Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2013. "Two Studies on the Interplay between Social Preferences and Individual Biological Features," ESE Discussion Papers 218, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:218
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dirk Engelmann & Martin Strobel, 2004. "Inequality Aversion, Efficiency, and Maximin Preferences in Simple Distribution Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 857-869, September.
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    4. Santiago Sanchez-Pages & Enrique Turiegano, 2009. "Testosterone, Facial Symmetry and Cooperation in the Prisoners' Dilemma," ESE Discussion Papers 192, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
    5. Ryan O. Murphy & Kurt A. Ackerman & Michel J. J. Handgraaf, 2011. "Measuring social value orientation," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 6(8), pages 771-781, December.
    6. Charness, Gary & Grosskopf, Brit, 2001. "Relative payoffs and happiness: an experimental study," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 301-328, July.
    7. Zak, Paul J. & Stanton, Angela A. & Ahmadi, Sheila, 2007. "Oxytocin Increases Generosity in Humans," MPRA Paper 5650, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Espín, Antonio M. & Garcia, Teresa & Kovářík, Jaromír, 2018. "Digit ratio (2D:4D) predicts pro-social behavior in economic games only for unsatisfied individuals," MPRA Paper 86166, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Noussair, Charles N. & Offerman, Theo & Suetens, Sigrid & Van de Ven, Jeroen & Van Leeuwen, Boris & Van Veelen, Matthijs, 2014. "Predictably angry: Facial cues provide a credible signal of destructive behavior," IAST Working Papers 14-15, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse (IAST).
    3. Munoz-Reyes, J. A. & Pita, M. & Arjona, M. & Sanchez-Pages, S. & Turiegano, E., 2013. "Who is the fairest of them all? The independent effect of attractive features and self-perceived attractiveness on cooperation among women," SIRE Discussion Papers 2013-70, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).

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    Keywords

    testosterone; ultimatum game; fluctuating asymmetry; facial masculinity; 2D:4D; social preferences;

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