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Are Social Preferences Skin Deep? Dictators under Cognitive Load

Author

Listed:
  • Hauge, Karen Evelyn

    (Department of Economics, Oslo University)

  • Brekke, Kjell Arne

    (Department of Economics, Oslo University)

  • Johansson, Lars-Olof

    (Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg)

  • Johansson-Stenman, Olof

    (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)

  • Svedsäter, Henrik

    (Organisational Behaviour, London Business School)

Abstract

We study the impact of cognitive load in dictator games to test two conflicting views of moral behavior. Are social preferences skindeep in the sense that they are the result of humans’ cognitive reasoning while the natural instinct is selfish, or is rather the natural instinct to share fairly while our cognitive capacities are able to adjust moral principles in a selfserving manner? Some previous studies in more complex settings give conflicting answers, and to disentangle different possible mechanisms we use simple games. We study both charitable giving and the behavior of dictators under high and low cognitive load, where high cognitive load is assumed to reduce the impact of cognitive processes on behavior. In the dictator game we use both a give frame, where the dictator is given an amount and may share some or all of it to a partner, and a take frame, where dictators may take from an amount initially allocated to the partner. The results from four different studies indicate that the effect of cognitive load is small if at all existing.

Suggested Citation

  • Hauge, Karen Evelyn & Brekke, Kjell Arne & Johansson, Lars-Olof & Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Svedsäter, Henrik, 2009. "Are Social Preferences Skin Deep? Dictators under Cognitive Load," Working Papers in Economics 371, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:gunwpe:0371
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/20768
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Piovesan, Marco & Wengström, Erik, 2009. "Fast or fair? A study of response times," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 193-196, November.
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    3. Willinger, Marc & Ziegelmeyer, Anthony, 1999. "Framing and cooperation in public good games: an experiment with an interior solution," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 323-328, December.
    4. Dominique Cappellettia & Werner Güth & Matteo Ploner, 2008. "Being of two minds: an ultimatum experiment investigating affective processes," Jena Economics Research Papers 2008-048, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
    5. Gert Cornelissen & Siegfried Dewitte & Luk Warlop, 2007. "Social value orientation as a moral intuition: Decision-making in the dictator game," Economics Working Papers 1028, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    6. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2013. "Who Is ‘Behavioral’? Cognitive Ability And Anomalous Preferences," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 11(6), pages 1231-1255, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Buckert, Magdalena & Oechssler, Jörg & Schwieren, Christiane, 2017. "Imitation under stress," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 252-266.
    2. Martin G. Kocher & Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny E. Wollbrant, 2017. "Strong, bold, and kind: self-control and cooperation in social dilemmas," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 20(1), pages 44-69, March.
    3. Tim Friehe & Hannah Schildberg-Hörisch, 2014. "Crime and Self-Control Revisited: Disentangling the Effect of Self-Control on Risk and Social Preferences," CESifo Working Paper Series 4747, CESifo.
    4. Cueva, Carlos & Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Iñigo & Mata-Pérez, Esther & Ponti, Giovanni & Sartarelli, Marcello & Yu, Haihan & Zhukova, Vita, 2016. "Cognitive (ir)reflection: New experimental evidence," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 81-93.
    5. Friehe, Tim & Schildberg-Hörisch, Hannah, 2017. "Self-control and crime revisited: Disentangling the effect of self-control on risk taking and antisocial behavior," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 23-32.
    6. Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Gerhard Riener & Conny Wollbrant, 2013. "Tangible temptation in the social dilemma: Cash, cooperation, and self-control," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-13-04, ESMT European School of Management and Technology.
    7. Achtziger, Anja & Alós-Ferrer, Carlos & Wagner, Alexander K., 2018. "Social preferences and self-control," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 161-166.
    8. Allred, Sarah & Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2016. "Cognitive load and strategic sophistication," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 125(C), pages 162-178.
    9. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2014. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game: Are there brains in games?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 47-56.
    10. Jonathan Schulz & Urs Fischbacher & Christian Thöni & Verena Utikal, 2011. "Affect and Fairness," TWI Research Paper Series 68, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
    11. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2011. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game," MPRA Paper 30856, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. Goeschl, Timo & Lohse, Johannes, 2018. "Cooperation in public good games. Calculated or confused?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 185-203.
    13. Hanna Fromell & Daniele Nosenzo & Trudy Owens, 2014. "Tradeoffs between Self-interest and Other-Regarding Preferences Cause Willpower Depletion," Discussion Papers 2014-14, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
    14. Chen, Chia-Ching & Chiu, I-Ming & Smith, John & Yamada, Tetsuji, 2013. "Too smart to be selfish? Measures of cognitive ability, social preferences, and consistency," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 112-122.
    15. Thomas Buser & Anna Dreber, 2016. "The Flipside of Comparative Payment Schemes," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(9), pages 2626-2638, September.
    16. Martinsson, Peter & Myrseth, Kristian Ove R. & Wollbrant, Conny, 2014. "Social dilemmas: When self-control benefits cooperation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 213-236.
    17. Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny Wollbrant, 2012. "Reconciling pro-social vs. selfish behavior: On the role of self-control," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(3), pages 304-315, May.
    18. Kessler, Judd B. & Meier, Stephan, 2014. "Learning from (failed) replications: Cognitive load manipulations and charitable giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 10-13.
    19. repec:cup:judgdm:v:7:y:2012:i:3:p:304-315 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Tina Strombach & Zsofia Margittai & Barbara Gorczyca & Tobias Kalenscher, 2016. "Gender-Specific Effects of Cognitive Load on Social Discounting," PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science, vol. 11(10), pages 1-15, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social Preferences; experiments; dictator game; cognitive load;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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