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Too smart to be selfish? Measures of cognitive ability, social preferences, and consistency

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  • Chen, Chia-Ching
  • Chiu, I-Ming
  • Smith, John
  • Yamada, Tetsuji

Abstract

Although there is an increasing interest in examining the relationship between cognitive ability and economic behavior, less is known about the relationship between cognitive ability and social preferences. We investigate the relationship between consequential measures of cognitive ability and measures of social preferences. We have data on a series of small-stakes dictator-type decisions, known as Social Value Orientation (SVO), in addition to choices in a larger-stakes dictator game. We also have access to the grade point averages (GPA) and SAT (formerly referred to as the Scholastic Aptitude Test) outcomes of our subjects. We find that subjects who perform better on the Math portion of the SAT are more generous in both the dictator game and the SVO measure. By contrast we find that subjects with a higher GPA are more selfish in the dictator game and more generous according to the SVO. We also find some evidence that the subjects with higher GPA and higher SAT outcomes offer more consistent responses. Our results involving GPA and social preferences complement previous work which employ measures of cognitive ability which are sensitive to the intrinsic motivation of the subject. Our results involving SAT scores are without precedent in the literature and suggest that measures of cognitive ability, which are less sensitive to the intrinsic motivation of the subject, are positively related to generosity.

Suggested Citation

  • Chen, Chia-Ching & Chiu, I-Ming & Smith, John & Yamada, Tetsuji, 2012. "Too smart to be selfish? Measures of cognitive ability, social preferences, and consistency," MPRA Paper 41078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:41078
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    Cited by:

    1. Kai Duttle & Keigo Inukai, 2015. "Complexity Aversion: Influences of Cognitive Abilities, Culture and System of Thought," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(2), pages 846-855.
    2. Sule Alan & Seda Ertac, 2017. "Belief in Hard Work and Altruism: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment," Working Papers 2017-053, Human Capital and Economic Opportunity Working Group.
    3. Thorsten Chmura & Christoph Engel & Markus Englerth, 2013. "Selfishness As a Potential Cause of Crime. A Prison Experiment," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_05, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    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. repec:eee:jeborg:v:142:y:2017:i:c:p:79-91 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Kiss, H.J. & Rodriguez-Lara, I. & Rosa-García, A., 2016. "Think twice before running! Bank runs and cognitive abilities," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 12-19.
    7. Ji Yong Lee & Rodolfo M. Nayga, Jr & Cary Deck & Andreas Drichoutis, 2017. "Cognitive Ability and Bidding Behavior in Second Price Auctions: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 2017-3, Agricultural University of Athens, Department Of Agricultural Economics.
    8. Armin Falk & Anke Becker & Thomas Dohmen & Benjamin Enke & David B. Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2017. "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences," NBER Working Papers 23943, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    10. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Praveen Kujal & Balint Lenkei, 2015. "Cognitive Reflection Test: Whom, how, when," Working Papers 15-25, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    11. Baghestanian, Sascha & Frey, Seth, 2016. "GO figure: Analytic and strategic skills are separable," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 71-80.
    12. 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.
    13. Corgnet, Brice & Espín, Antonio M. & Hernán-González, Roberto & Kujal, Praveen & Rassenti, Stephen, 2016. "To trust, or not to trust: Cognitive reflection in trust games," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 20-27.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    dictator game; Social Value Orientation; altruism; intelligence;

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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