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Cognitive processes underlying distributional preferences: a response time study

Fadong Chen () and Urs Fischbacher
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Fadong Chen: Zhejiang University

Experimental Economics, 2020, vol. 23, issue 2, No 6, 446 pages

Abstract: Abstract There is ample evidence that people differ considerably in their preferences. We identify individual heterogeneity in type and strength of social preferences in a series of binary three-person dictator games. Based on this identification, we analyze response times in another series of games to investigate the cognitive processes of distributional preferences. We find that response time increases with the number of conflicts between individually relevant motives and decreases with the utility difference between choice options. The selfish motive is more intuitive for subjects who are more selfish. Our findings indicate that the sequential sampling process and the intuition of selfishness jointly produce distribution decisions, and provide an explanation for the mixed results on the correlations between response time and prosociality. Our results also show that it is important to take heterogeneity of preferences into account when investigating the cognitive processes of social decision making.

Keywords: Distributional preferences; Cognitive process; Response time; Heterogeneity (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A12 C72 C91 D30 D87 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1007/s10683-019-09618-x

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