IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games

Listed author(s):
  • John List

The dictator game represents a workhorse within experimental economics, frequently used to test theory and to provide insights into the prevalence of social preferences. This study explores more closely the dictator game and the literature's preferred interpretation of its meaning by collecting data from nearly 200 dictators across treatments that varied the action set and the origin of endowment. The action set variation includes choices in which the dictator can "take" money from the other player. Empirical results question the received interpretation of dictator game giving: many fewer agents are willing to transfer money when the action set includes taking. Yet, a result that holds regardless of action set composition is that agents do not ubiquitously choose the most selfish outcome. The results have implications for theoretical models of social preferences, highlight that "institutions" matter a great deal, and point to useful avenues for future research using simple dictator games and relevant manipulations.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://s3.amazonaws.com/fieldexperiments-papers2/papers/00479.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00479.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: 2007
Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00479
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. Simonson, Itamar, 1989. " Choice Based on Reasons: The Case of Attraction and Compromise Effects," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 158-174, September.
  2. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  3. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  4. Cox, James C., 2004. "How to identify trust and reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 260-281, February.
  5. Harrison, Glenn W & Hirshleifer, Jack, 1989. "An Experimental Evaluation of Weakest Link/Best Shot Models of Public Goods," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 201-225, February.
  6. Forsythe Robert & Horowitz Joel L. & Savin N. E. & Sefton Martin, 1994. "Fairness in Simple Bargaining Experiments," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 347-369, May.
  7. List, John A. & Cherry, Todd L., 2008. "Examining the role of fairness in high stakes allocation decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 1-8, January.
  8. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "Social Distance and Other-Regarding Behavior in Dictator Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 653-660, June.
  9. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
  10. Camerer, Colin & Weigelt, Keith, 1988. "Experimental Tests of a Sequential Equilibrium Reputation Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(1), pages 1-36, January.
  11. Henrich, Joseph & Boyd, Robert & Bowles, Samuel & Camerer, Colin & Fehr, Ernst & Gintis, Herbert (ed.), 2004. "Foundations of Human Sociality: Economic Experiments and Ethnographic Evidence from Fifteen Small-Scale Societies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199262052.
  12. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Ockenfels, Peter, 1996. "Two-Level Ultimatum Bargaining with Incomplete Information: An Experimental Study," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 106(436), pages 593-604, May.
  13. Pablo BraƱas-Garza & Antonio Morales, 2005. "Moral Framing in Dictator Games by Short Sentences," ThE Papers 05/06, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  14. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
  15. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
  16. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  17. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games (JPE 2007) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00479. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joe Seidel)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.