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(Over-)Stylizing experimental findings and theorizing with sweeping generality


  • Werner Güth

    (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Jena, Germany)

  • Hartmut Kliemt

    (Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)

  • M. Vittoria Levatia

    () (Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Metodi Matematici, University of Bari, Italy)


Human decision making is a process guided by different and partly competing motivations that can each dominate behavior and lead to different effects depending on strength and circumstances. "Over-stylizing" neglects such competing concerns and context-dependence, although it facilitates the emergence of elaborate general theories. We illustrate by examples from social dilemma experiments and inequality aversion theories that sweeping empirical claims should be avoided.

Suggested Citation

  • Werner Güth & Hartmut Kliemt & M. Vittoria Levatia, 2008. "(Over-)Stylizing experimental findings and theorizing with sweeping generality," Jena Economic Research Papers 2008-092, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2008-092

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2001. "The Relevance of Equal Splits in Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 161-169, October.
    2. 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.
    3. Werner Güth & Hartmut Kliemt & M. Vittoria Levati & Georg von Wangenheim, 2007. "On the Coevolution of Retribution and Trustworthiness: An (Indirect) Evolutionary and Experimental Analysis," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 163(1), pages 143-157, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Carlsson, Fredrik & Kataria, Mitesh & Krupnick, Alan & Lampi, Elina & Löfgren, Åsa & Qin, Ping & Sterner, Thomas, 2013. "A fair share: Burden-sharing preferences in the United States and China," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 1-17.
    2. Clark, Andrew E. & D'Ambrosio, Conchita, 2014. "Attitudes to Income Inequality: Experimental and Survey Evidence," IZA Discussion Papers 8136, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item


    Context-dependent preferences; Experimental economics; Equity theories.;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General

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