They Come to Play: Supply Effects in an Economic Experiment
Our experiment challenges the standard, social preference, interpretation of choices in the double blind dictator game. In our bilateral treatment both groups are endowed with $20, any fraction of which can be passed to a randomly determined player in the other group. Because both groups have $20 to start, neither inequality aversion nor altruism should motivate people to give. Despite this, the allocations in this treatment are identical to our replication of the standard double blind game implying that altruism might be the wrong interpretation of giving. Instead, we hypothesize that giving might be driven by participants coming to the lab ready “to play.” The fact that there is a strong correlation between participant responses to an attention deficit, hyperactivity disorder questionnaire and both the rate and level of giving provides direct support for this hypothesis. We also show that having players earn their endowments attenuates the bias.
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