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Keeping others in our mind or in our heart? Distribution games under cognitive load

Karen Hauge (), Kjell Arne Brekke, Lars-Olof Johansson (), Olof Johansson-Stenman () and Henrik Svedsäter ()
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Lars-Olof Johansson: Department of Psychology, Postal: P.O. Box 100, SE 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden
Henrik Svedsäter: London Business School

No 600, Working Papers in Economics from University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics

Abstract: It has recently been argued that giving is spontaneous while greed is calculated (Rand et al. 2012). If greed is calculated we would expect that cognitive load, which is assumed to reduce the influence of cognitive processes, should affect greed. In this paper we study both charitable giving and the behavior of dictators under high and low cognitive load, to test if greed is affected by the load. In the dictator games we use both a give frame, where the dictators are given an amount that they may share with a partner, and a take frame, where dictators may take from an amount initially allocated to the partner. The results show consistently that the behavioral effect in terms of allocated money of the induced load is small if at all existent. At the same time, follow-up questions indicate that the subjects’ decisions are more driven by their feelings and less driven by their thoughts under cognitive load.

Keywords: Cognitive load; Dictator games; Social preferences; Pro-social behavior; altruism (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C91 D64 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp, nep-neu and nep-soc
Date: 2014-06
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Forthcoming as Hauge, Karen Evelyn, Kjell Arne Brekke, Lars-Olof Johansson, Olof Johansson-Stenman and Henrik Svedsäter, 'Keeping others in our mind or in our heart? Distribution games under cognitive load' in Experimental Economics .

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