The Impact of Self-Control Depletion on Social Preferences in the Ultimatum Game

33 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2011 Last revised: 4 Jul 2015

See all articles by Anja Achtziger

Anja Achtziger

Zeppelin University

Carlos Alós-Ferrer

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Alexander Wagner

University of Konstanz

Date Written: July 3, 2015

Abstract

We study the interaction of different motives and decision processes in determining behavior in the ultimatum game. We rely on an ego-depletion manipulation which consumes self-control resources, thereby enhancing the influence of default reactions, or in psychological terms, automatic processes. Experimental results provide evidence that proposers make higher offers under ego depletion. Based on findings from a closely related dictator game study, which shows that depleted dictators give less than non-depleted ones, we discard the possibility that other-regarding concerns are the default mode. Instead, we conclude that depleted proposers offer more because of a strategic `fear of rejection' of low offers, consistent with self-centered monetary concerns. For responders, ego depletion increases the likelihood to accept offers, in line with unconditional monetary concerns being more automatic than affect-influenced reactions to reject unfair offers.

Keywords: Ego Depletion, Self-Control, Social Preferences, Ultimatum Game

JEL Classification: C72, C92

Suggested Citation

Achtziger, Anja and Alos-Ferrer, Carlos and Wagner, Alexander, The Impact of Self-Control Depletion on Social Preferences in the Ultimatum Game (July 3, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1869148 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1869148

Anja Achtziger

Zeppelin University ( email )

Am Seemooser Horn 20
Friedrichshafen, Lake Constance 88045
Germany

Carlos Alos-Ferrer (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zürich
Switzerland

Alexander Wagner

University of Konstanz ( email )

Fach D-144
Universitätsstraße 10
Konstanz, D-78457
Germany

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