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The role of role uncertainty in modified dictator games
Iriberri, Nagore; Rey-Biel, Pedro
Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa
We compare behavior in modified dictator games with and without role uncertainty. Subjectschoose between a selfish action, a costly surplus creating action (altruistic behavior) and acostly surplus destroying action (spiteful behavior). While costly surplus creating actions are themost frequent under role uncertainty (64%), selfish actions become the most frequent withoutrole uncertainty (69%). Also, the frequency of surplus destroying choices is negligible with roleuncertainty (1%) but not so without it (11%). A classification of subjects into four differenttypes of interdependent preferences (Selfish, Social Welfare maximizing, Inequity Averse andCompetitive) shows that the use of role uncertainty overestimates the prevalence of SocialWelfare maximizing preferences in the subject population (from 74% with role uncertainty to21% without it) and underestimates Selfish and Inequity Averse preferences. An additionaltreatment, in which subjects undertake an understanding test before participating in theexperiment with role uncertainty, shows that the vast majority of subjects (93%) correctlyunderstand the payoff mechanism with role uncertainty, but yet surplus creating actions weremost frequent. Our results warn against the use of role uncertainty in experiments that aim tomeasure the prevalence of interdependent preferences.
Behavioral and Experimental Economics
role uncertainty
role reversal
interdependent preferences
social welfare
inequity aversion
mixture-of-types models
strategy method
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