The Role of Role Uncertainty in Modified Dictator Games
18 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2009
Date Written: May 15, 2008
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: Suggested Citation