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Expected Behavior in the Dictator Game

  • Pablo Brañas-Garza

    ()

    (Department of Economic Theory and Economic History, GLOBE, University of Granada.)

This paper provides novel results for the extensive literature on dictator games: recipients do not expect dictators to behave selfishly, but instead expect the equal split division. We performed a field experiment in Baja California among a population of unexperienced subjects. Using monetary incentives we find that only 10 percent of subjects correctly guessed the expected Nash equilibrium payoff (zero). In sharp contrast, the modal subject predicts the equal split. The predictions made by dictators are notably different: 45% predicted the zero contribution and 40% expected the equal split. Surprisingly, their actions are uncorrelated with their predictions: they choose a donation in the interior of the interval. We conjecture that the equal split is the natural solution to the problem but because the dictators are involved, they also consider the chance of keeping the complete pie for themselves. Dictators solve the puzzle by passing a positive amount of money wh ich reflects the tension between fairness and self-interest. In consequence, any giving smaller than the equal split division may not be considered altruistic behavior. Only a donation larger than the 50/50 split would reflect generosity.

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File URL: http://www.ugr.es/~teoriahe/RePEc/gra/wpaper/thepapers08_12.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada. in its series ThE Papers with number 08/12.

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Length: 13 pages
Date of creation: 21 Dec 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:gra:wpaper:08/12
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  1. John A. List, 2007. "On the Interpretation of Giving in Dictator Games," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 482-493.
  2. Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "What's in a name? Anonymity and social distance in dictator and ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-35, October.
  3. Durán, Miguel A. & Brañas Garza, Pablo & Espinosa Alejos, María Paz, 2005. "The role of personal involvement and responsibility in dictatorial allocations: A classroom experiment," DFAEII Working Papers 2005-14, University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis II.
  4. Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Brañas-Garza & Natalia Jiménez & Luis Miller, 2007. "Are women expected to be more generous?," ThE Papers 07/08, Department of Economic Theory and Economic History of the University of Granada..
  5. Nagore Iriberri & Pedro Rey‐Biel, 2013. "Elicited beliefs and social information in modified dictator games: What do dictators believe other dictators do?," Quantitative Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 4(3), pages 515-547, November.
  6. Pablo Branas-Garza & Debrah Meloso & Luis Miller, 2012. "Interactive and Moral Reasoning: A Comparative Study of Response Times," Working Papers 440, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus & Tjøtta, Sigve & Torsvik, Gaute, 2007. "Testing Guilt Aversion," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 683, Stockholm School of Economics.
  8. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "Promises and Partnership," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000001, UCLA Department of Economics.
  9. Christoph Engel, 2011. "Dictator games: a meta study," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 583-610, November.
  10. Charness, Gary B & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2006. "Promises & Partnership," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt0127h86v, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  11. Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Branas-Garza & Maria Paz Espinosa & Luis M. Miller, 2007. "Personal Identity in the Dictator Game," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-007, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  12. Fernando Aguiar & Pablo Branas-Garza & Luis M. Miller, 2007. "Moral Distance and Moral Motivations in Dictator Games," Jena Economic Research Papers 2007-047, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  13. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
  14. Vincent P. Crawford & Miguel A. Costa-Gomes & Nagore Iriberri, 2010. "Strategic Thinking," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000001148, David K. Levine.
  15. Battigalli, Pierpaolo & Dufwenberg, Martin, 2009. "Dynamic psychological games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(1), pages 1-35, January.
  16. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  17. 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.
  18. Branas-Garza, Pablo, 2006. "Poverty in dictator games: Awakening solidarity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 306-320, July.
  19. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 1996. "Altruism in Anonymous Dictator Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 181-191, October.
  20. Jason Dana & Roberto Weber & Jason Kuang, 2007. "Exploiting moral wiggle room: experiments demonstrating an illusory preference for fairness," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 67-80, October.
  21. Branas-Garza, Pablo, 2007. "Promoting helping behavior with framing in dictator games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 477-486, August.
  22. Dufwenberg, Martin & Muren, Astri, 2006. "Generosity, anonymity, gender," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 42-49, September.
  23. Rode, Julian & Le Menestrel, Marc, 2007. "The role of power for distributive fairness," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-71, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  24. 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.
  25. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2000. "Economics And Identity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 715-753, August.
  26. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Martin Dufwenberg, 2007. "Guilt in Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 170-176, May.
  27. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  28. 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 653-60, June.
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