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Giving in Dictator Games - Experimenter Demand Effect or Preference over the Rules of the Game?

  • Nadine Chlaß


    (School of Economics and Business Administration FSU Jena)

  • Peter G. Moffatt


    (University of East Anglia, UK)

Traditionally, giving in dictator games was assumed to signal preferences over others' payoffs. To date, several studies find that dictator game giving breaks down under conditions designed to increase dictators' anonymity or if an option to take money obscures the purpose of the task. Giving is therefore argued to result from an experimenter demand effect. Here, we put this new interpretation to a stress test and find evidence that dictators mean to compensate the recipient for her vulnerable position in the game. Our results explain why giving decreases under specific conditions designed to increase anonymity and why the same individual may signal very different other-regarding preferences across different rules and/or roles of a game (Blanco et al. 2011).

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Paper provided by Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena in its series Jena Economic Research Papers with number 2012-044.

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Date of creation: 23 Jul 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2012-044
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  1. Branas-Garza, Pablo, 2006. "Poverty in dictator games: Awakening solidarity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 306-320, July.
  2. Oechssler, Jörg, 2009. "Searching beyond the lamppost: Let’s focus on economically relevant questions," Working Papers 0486, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  3. Franzen, Axel & Pointner, Sonja, 2012. "Anonymity in the dictator game revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 74-81.
  4. Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2005. "Beyond outcomes: measuring procedural utility," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 57(1), pages 90-111, January.
  5. Branas-Garza, Pablo, 2007. "Promoting helping behavior with framing in dictator games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 28(4), pages 477-486, August.
  6. Smith, Vernon L., 2010. "Theory and experiment: What are the questions?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 3-15, January.
  7. Mikhael Shor, 2009. "Procedural Justice in Simple Bargaining Games," Working papers 2012-25, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  8. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Nadine Chlaß & Werner Güth & Topi Miettinen, 2009. "Beyond Procedural Equity and Reciprocity," Jena Economic Research Papers 2009-069, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  10. Daniel Zizzo, 2010. "Experimenter demand effects in economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 13(1), pages 75-98, March.
  11. Maria Vittoria Levati & Topi Miettinen & Birendra K. Rai, 2010. "Context and Interpretation in Laboratory Experiments: The Case of Reciprocity," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-090, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  12. 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.
  13. Blanco, Mariana & Engelmann, Dirk & Normann, Hans Theo, 2011. "A within-subject analysis of other-regarding preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 321-338, June.
  14. Burnham, Terence C., 2003. "Engineering altruism: a theoretical and experimental investigation of anonymity and gift giving," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 133-144, January.
  15. 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.
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