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Giving in dictator games: Experimenter demand effect or preference over the rules of the game?

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  • Nadine Chlass

    (University of Jena)

  • Peter G. Moffatt

    (University of East Anglia)

Abstract

Which preference underlies giving in dictator games? To date, the experimental evidence has either been interpreted as a preference over the distribution of pay-offs, or as an experimenter demand effect. We show that under strict dictator-dictator as well as strict dictator-recipient anonymity, giving in dictator games springs from a preference over the distribution of decision rights. In contrast, concerns which trigger experimenter demand (Andreoni and Bernheim 2009) are negatively correlated with dictator game giving. Our experiments cover a series of dictator game variants which have sparked the experimenter demand debate. In addition, we identify the sets of ethical ideals that dictators em-ploy to derive the 'right' course of action in a formal moral judgement test and model dictator transfers econometrically by means of dictators' actual ethical ideals. Our results explain the lion’s share of results from the literature: lower transfers when dictators earn the pie (Cherry et al. 2002); lower transfers when 'take' options are available (List 2007; Bardsley 2008); lower transfers when anonymity is lifted (Hoffmann et al. 1994); generous dictators consistently pre-ferring to avoid the game altogether, if given the option (Lazear et al. 2012), and findings that social norms and beliefs cause dictator transfers (Krupka and Weber 2013; Di Tella et al. 2015; Kimbrough and Vostroknutov 2015).

Suggested Citation

  • Nadine Chlass & Peter G. Moffatt, 2017. "Giving in dictator games: Experimenter demand effect or preference over the rules of the game?," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 17-05, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
  • Handle: RePEc:uea:wcbess:17-05
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    Cited by:

    1. Nadine Chlaß & Lata Gangadharan & Kristy Jones, 2015. "Charitable Giving and Intermediation," Monash Economics Working Papers 18-15, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    2. Nadine Chlaß & Lata Gangadharan & Kristy Jones, 2021. "Charitable giving and intermediation: a principal agent problem with hidden prices," Monash Economics Working Papers 2021-14, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    3. Panizza, Folco & Vostroknutov, Alexander & Coricelli, Giorgio, 2019. "Meta-Context and Choice-Set Effects in Mini-Dictator Games," Research Memorandum 010, Maastricht University, Graduate School of Business and Economics (GSBE).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    altruism; dictator games; moral judgement; experimenter demand effect; equality of decision rights; purely procedural preferences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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