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Endogenous context in a dictator game

Linda Thunstrom, Todd Cherry, David McEvoy () and Jason Shogren ()

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), 2016, vol. 65, issue C, 117-120

Abstract: The early characterization of humans as narrowly self-interested agents has unraveled in recent decades due to advances in the behavioral sciences. There is convincing evidence that peoples’ preferences and decisions are shaped by their relationship with others and the context of their interactions. While previous studies have demonstrated that context can shape preferences, we consider whether people endogenously shape their own preferences by choosing their context. Using a one-shot game, we explore whether dictators actively seek or avoid information regarding the deservingness of their recipient. We find that four out of five dictators endogenously choose to close the social distance gap by finding out the deservingness level of their recipients, and they act on that frame – the deserving get more, the undeserving get less. We further show that the decision to seek more information about the recipient is systematic, explained by the cultural worldviews of the dictator.

Keywords: Dictator game; Context, Deservingness; Preference shaping; Endogenous information (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C7 C9 D0 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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