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The Indirect Evolutionary Approach to Explaining Fair Allocations

Steffen Huck () and Jörg Oechssler

Game Theory and Information from University Library of Munich, Germany

Abstract: Experimental results on the ultimatum game show clearly that (1) large fractions of players offer a 'fair' allocation and (2) that unfair (but positive) offers are systematically rejected. We offer an explanation of this behavior using the 'indirect evolutionary approach' which is based on the assumption that players behave rationally for given preferences but that their preferences change through an evolutionary process. We prove that despite anonymous interaction a preference for punishing unfair offers is an evolutionarily successful strategy if players interact in small groups. This leads players to split the resource equally almost always. However, the equal split is not due to 'true fairness' (or 'altruism') but is entirely caused by the (justified) fear that unfair offers might be rejected.

Keywords: evolutionary game theory; ultimatum game; punishment. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: C73 D83 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 1995-07-31, Revised 1998-08-27
Note: This is the final version forthcoming in "Games and Economic Behavior"
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (11) Track citations by RSS feed

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Related works:
Journal Article: The Indirect Evolutionary Approach to Explaining Fair Allocations (1999) Downloads
Working Paper: The Indirect Evolutionary Approach To Explaining Fair Allocations (1996)
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