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Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?

Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?
Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact?
Experimental dictator games have been used to explore unselfish behaviour. Evidence is presented here, however, that subjects’ generosity can be reversed by allowing them to take a partner’s money. Dictator game giving therefore does not reveal concern for consequences to others existing independently of the environment, as posited in rational choice theory. It may instead be an artefact of experimentation. Alternatively, evaluations of options depend on the composition of the choice set. Implications of these possibilities are explored for experimental methodology and charitable donations respectively. The data favour the artefact interpretation, suggesting that demand characteristics of experimental protocols merit investigation, and that economic analysis should not exclude context-specific social norms.
altruism, artificiality, experiments, methodology
1573-6938
1-12
Bardsley, Nicholas
4cc36030-2783-4def-a06f-9f2aee92663e
Bardsley, Nicholas
4cc36030-2783-4def-a06f-9f2aee92663e

Bardsley, Nicholas (2007) Dictator game giving: altruism or artefact? Experimental Economics, 1-12. (doi:10.1007/s10683-007-9172-2).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Experimental dictator games have been used to explore unselfish behaviour. Evidence is presented here, however, that subjects’ generosity can be reversed by allowing them to take a partner’s money. Dictator game giving therefore does not reveal concern for consequences to others existing independently of the environment, as posited in rational choice theory. It may instead be an artefact of experimentation. Alternatively, evaluations of options depend on the composition of the choice set. Implications of these possibilities are explored for experimental methodology and charitable donations respectively. The data favour the artefact interpretation, suggesting that demand characteristics of experimental protocols merit investigation, and that economic analysis should not exclude context-specific social norms.

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More information

Published date: 29 September 2007
Keywords: altruism, artificiality, experiments, methodology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 47485
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/47485
ISSN: 1573-6938
PURE UUID: 25af2ec9-af33-4e27-894e-56c7546bf37c

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Date deposited: 01 Aug 2007
Last modified: 14 Aug 2019 17:47

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