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Let the Dummy Talk! Unilateral Communication and Discrimination in Three-Person Dictator Experiments


  • Ben Greiner


  • Werner Guth
  • Ro’i Zultan


To explain why pre-play communication increases cooperation in games, one refers to a) strategic causes such as efficient communication or reputation effects, and b) changes in the utilities due to social processes. Hitherto experimental support for both explanations is mixed and confounded. Our experimental design eliminates all strategic factors and allows to focus on the effects of communication processes. We clearly find social effects, but none of revealed anonymity or salient communication. The social processes invoked are very heterogeneous but not irregular for different communicators.

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  • Ben Greiner & Werner Guth & Ro’i Zultan, 2005. "Let the Dummy Talk! Unilateral Communication and Discrimination in Three-Person Dictator Experiments," Discussion Paper Series dp396, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  • Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp396

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Axel Ockenfels, 2003. "The Effect of Communication Media on Cooperation," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 4(2), pages 217-241, May.
    2. Carsten Schmidt & Ro'i Zultan, 2005. "The Uncontrolled Social Utility Hypothesis Revisited," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 3(33), pages 1-7.
    3. Frohlich, Norman & Oppenheimer, Joe, 1998. "Some consequences of e-mail vs. face-to-face communication in experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 389-403, April.
    4. Gary E. Bolton & Rami Zwick & Elena Katok, 1998. "Dictator game giving: Rules of fairness versus acts of kindness," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 27(2), pages 269-299.
    5. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:3:y:2005:i:33:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Ellman & Paul Pezanis-Christou, 2010. "Organizational Structure, Communication, and Group Ethics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 2478-2491, December.

    More about this item


    bargaining; communication; social utility; n-persons dictator game;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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