Too Smart to Be Selfish? Measures of Cognitive Ability, Social Preferences, and Consistency
28 Pages Posted: 3 Nov 2011 Last revised: 13 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 8, 2013
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: Suggested Citation