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Taking, Giving, and Impure Altruism in Dictator Games

  • Korenok Oleg


    (Department of Economics, VCU School of Business)

  • Edward L. Millner


    (Department of Economics, VCU School of Business)

  • Laura Razzolini


    (Department of Economics, VCU School of Business)

We show that, if giving is equivalent to not taking, impure altruism could account for List's (2007) finding that the payoff to recipients in a dictator game decreases when the dictator has the option to take. We examine behavior in dictator games with different taking options but equivalent final payoff possibilities. We find that recipients tend to earn more as the amount the dictator must take to achieve a given final payoff increases, a result consistent with the hypothesis that the cold prickle of taking is stronger than the warm glow of giving. We conclude that not taking is not equivalent to giving and agree with List (2007) that the current social preference models fail to rationalize the observed data.

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Paper provided by VCU School of Business, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 1301.

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Length: 18 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:vcu:wpaper:1301
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  1. Cappelen, Alexander W. & Nielsen, Ulrik H. & Sørensen, Erik Ø. & Tungodden, Bertil & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2012. "Give and Take in Dictator Games," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 14/2012, Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics.
  2. James Andreoni & John Miller, 2002. "Giving According to GARP: An Experimental Test of the Consistency of Preferences for Altruism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(2), pages 737-753, March.
  3. James Andreoni, 1994. "Warm-Glow versus Cold-Prickle: The Effects of Positive and Negative Framing on Cooperation in Experiments," Experimental 9410002, EconWPA.
  4. Bolton, G. & Katok, E., 1995. "An Experimental Test of the Crowding Out Hypothesis: The Nature of Beneficient Behavior," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 295.95, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  5. Philip J. Grossman & Catherine C. Eckel, 2012. "Giving versus Taking: A “Real Donation” Comparison of Warm Glow and Cold Prickle in a Context-Rich Environment," Monash Economics Working Papers 20-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  6. Korenok, Oleg & Millner, Edward L. & Razzolini, Laura, 2013. "Impure altruism in dictators' giving," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 1-8.
  7. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  8. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  9. 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.
  10. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  11. Todd L. Cherry & Peter Frykblom & Jason F. Shogren, 2002. "Hardnose the Dictator," Working Papers 02-06, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
  12. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J. & Johnston, Rachel M., 2005. "An experimental test of the crowding out hypothesis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(8), pages 1543-1560, August.
  13. Nicholas Bardsley, 2008. "Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 11(2), pages 122-133, June.
  14. Philip J. Grossman & Catherine C. Eckel, 2012. "Giving versus Taking: A “Real Donation” Comparison of Warm Glow and Cold Prickle," Monash Economics Working Papers 40-12, Monash University, Department of Economics.
  15. Korenok, Oleg & Millner, Edward L. & Razzolini, Laura, 2012. "Are dictators averse to inequality?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 543-547.
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