Too Smart to Be Selfish? Measures of Cognitive Ability, Social Preferences, and Consistency

28 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2011 Last revised: 13 Feb 2013

See all articles by Chia-Ching Chen

Chia-Ching Chen

New York Medical College- School of Health Sciences and Practices & Institute of Public Health

I-Ming Chiu

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University, Camden

John Smith

Rutgers University-Camden

Tetsuji Yamada

Rutgers University, Camden, Camden College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics; NBER

Date Written: February 8, 2013

Abstract

Although there is an increasing interest in examining the relationship between cognitive ability and economic behavior, less is known about the relationship between cognitive ability and social preferences. We investigate the relationship between significant measures of intelligence and measures of social preferences. We have data on a series of small-stakes dictator-type decisions, known as Social Value Orientation (SVO), in addition to choices in a larger-stakes dictator game. We also have access to the grade point averages (GPA) and SAT (formerly referred to as the Scholastic Aptitude Test) outcomes of our subjects. We find that subjects who perform better on the math portion of the SAT are more generous in both the dictator game and the SVO measure. By contrast we find that subjects with a higher GPA are more selfish in the dictator game and more generous according to the SVO. We also find that the consistency of the subjects is related to GPA but we do not find evidence that it is related to either portion of the SAT.

Keywords: dictator game, social value orientation, altruism, cognitive ability

JEL Classification: C91, D64

Suggested Citation

Chen, Chia-Ching and Chiu, I-Ming and Smith, John and Yamada, Tetsuji, Too Smart to Be Selfish? Measures of Cognitive Ability, Social Preferences, and Consistency (February 8, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1952975 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1952975

Chia-Ching Chen

New York Medical College- School of Health Sciences and Practices & Institute of Public Health ( email )

40 Sunshine Cottage Road
Valhalla, NY 10595
United States
(914) 594-2824 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.nymc.edu/faculty/directory/by-name/chen-chia--ching/

I-Ming Chiu

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers University, Camden ( email )

Camden, NJ 08102
United States

John Smith (Contact Author)

Rutgers University-Camden ( email )

Department of Economics
311 N. 5th St.
Camden, NJ 08102
United States

HOME PAGE: http://crab.rutgers.edu/~smithj/

Tetsuji Yamada

Rutgers University, Camden, Camden College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Camden, NJ 08102
United States

NBER

365 Fifth Avenue, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10016-4309
United States

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