The Role of Role Uncertainty in Modified Dictator Games

18 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2009

See all articles by Nagore Iriberri

Nagore Iriberri

University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis I

Pedro Rey-Biel

Autonomous University of Barcelona

Date Written: May 15, 2008

Abstract

We compare behavior in modified dictator games with and without role uncertainty. Subjects choose between a selfish action, a costly surplus creating action (altruistic behavior) and a costly surplus destroying action (spiteful behavior). While costly surplus creating actions are most frequent under role uncertainty (64%), selfish actions become most frequent without role uncertainty (69%). Also, the frequency of surplus destroying choices is negligible with role uncertainty (1%) but not so without it (11%). A classification of subjects into four different types of interdependent preferences (Selfish, Social Welfare maximizing, Inequity Averse and Competitive) shows that the use of role uncertainty overestimates the prevalence of Social Welfare maximizing preferences in the subject population (from 74% with role uncertainty to 21% without it) and underestimates Selfish and Inequity Averse preferences. Our results warn against the use of role uncertainty in experiments that aim to measure the prevalence of interdependent preferences.

Keywords: Role uncertainty, role reversal, interdependent preferences, social welfare, maximizing, inequity aversion, mixture-of-types models, strategy method, experiments, LeeX

JEL Classification: C72, C91, D81

Suggested Citation

Iriberri, Nagore and Rey-Biel, Pedro, The Role of Role Uncertainty in Modified Dictator Games (May 15, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1428282 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1428282

Nagore Iriberri (Contact Author)

University of the Basque Country - Department of Foundations of Economic Analysis I ( email )

Avenida Lehendakari Aguirre 83
E-48015 Bilbao
Spain

Pedro Rey-Biel

Autonomous University of Barcelona

Plaça Cívica
Cerdañola del Valles
Barcelona, Barcelona 08193
Spain

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