Do Dictator Games Measure Altruism?
HANDBOOK ON THE ECONOMICS OF PHILANTHROPY, RECIPROCITY AND SOCIAL ENTERPRISE, Luigino Bruni and Stefano Zamagni, eds., Edward Elgar, Forthcoming
8 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 5, 2011
This note paper considers briefly whether dictator games are a good tool to measure altruism. The answer is negative: behavior in dictator games is seriously confounded by what I shall label experimenter demand effects. Section 2 briefly defines dictator games and reviews some of its purported enduring appeal. Section 3 criticizes dictator games as a measure of altruism and concludes by considering whether a role for dictator games can still be found that may be of relevance for the economics of philanthropy.
Keywords: dictator games, altruism, social norms, economic methodology, experimental economics
JEL Classification: B41, C91, D64
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation