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Cognitive Processes of Distributional Preferences: A Response Time Study

Fadong Chen and Urs Fischbacher

No 101, TWI Research Paper Series from Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz

Abstract: There is ample evidence that people differ considerably in the strength of their social preferences. We identify individual heterogeneity in social motives and selfishness in a series of binary three-person dictator games. Based on this identification, we analyze response time to investigate the cognitive processes of distributional preferences. We find that response time increases with the number of conflicts between individually relevant motives and the difficulty of the decisions. The selfish motive is more intuitive for subjects who are more selfish. This is evidence for both, evidence accumulation models and dual-process theory, and we can show that heterogeneity in preferences is reflected in heterogeneity in the underlying cognitive processes. This shows 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)
Date: 2015
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-exp and nep-neu
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