Playing the Ultimatum Game with Grades: Gender, Confidence, and Performance in Public International Law

Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 57, No. 3, 2007

22 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2007

See all articles by Kif Augustine-Adams

Kif Augustine-Adams

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School

Abstract

In the Ultimatum Game, two strangers share $100. One divides the money; the other accepts or rejects the division, with the caveat that rejection means neither receives any money. Playing the Ultimatum Game with money is par for the course; playing with grades is not. Given that law students value their grades highly, I hoped that negotiating grades would bring an immediacy and concreteness to the theoretical problems of negotiation in my Public International Law class. Subject to challenges posed by certain ABA rules, playing the Ultimatum Game with grades was a cheap, effective tool to explicate and explore rationality, self-interest, context, and the myriad other issues that international negotiations raise. The data I collected as part of the exercise also took me beyond my initial concern with international negotiations and law to reveal interesting connections among gender, rationality, confidence, and reality. After all was said and done, the men in the class negotiated a better deal for themselves than did the women, but the women's negotiated grades more accurately reflected their actual exam performance. Measuring negotiated grades against law school GPAs, the men in the class were not particularly overconfident. On the other hand, when measuring negotiated grades against actual exam grades in the class, the men in the class were overconfident in projecting their actual performance. The women were not particularly underconfident. This data replicates the findings of other research, although the psychological and economic scholarship as a whole is mixed on the question of men's and women's confidence and self-assessment of skills relative to actual performance.

Keywords: legal education, negotiation, public international law, law student confidence

JEL Classification: K40, K33, I20

Suggested Citation

Augustine-Adams, Kif, Playing the Ultimatum Game with Grades: Gender, Confidence, and Performance in Public International Law. Journal of Legal Education, Vol. 57, No. 3, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1033054

Kif Augustine-Adams (Contact Author)

Brigham Young University - J. Reuben Clark Law School ( email )

430 JRCB
Brigham Young University
Provo, UT 84602
United States

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