The Dark Side of Personality: Anti-Sociality Increases Strategic Game Play

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2018-010/I

52 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2018

See all articles by Jan Engelmann

Jan Engelmann

University of Zurich - Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology

Basil Schmid

Institut für Verkehrsplanung ETH Zürich

Justin Chumbley

ETH Zurich

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 26, 2018

Abstract

We assess the role of anti-social personality traits in explaining heterogeneity in commonly observed social preferences. We identified a personality profile that clearly reflects anti-social personality characteristics, with high positive loadings on Machiavellianism and high negative loadings on empathy, trustworthiness and agreeableness. Anti-sociality predicts decision strategies in a manner that is consistent with its name: significantly lower levels of trust and decreased trustworthiness. To identify the strategic nature of anti-social behavior in changing environments, we assessed the moderating role of personality on investor trust and trustee reciprocity in the presence relative to the absence of the investor’s option to punish. Our results show that only the anti-social personality profile is associated with specific payoff maximizing strategy shifts induced by these environmental changes: when punishment was not available to investors, we observe significantly lower levels of investor trust and trustee reciprocity, while there is a significant increase in both behaviors when punishment was available. These effects were specific for anti-sociality, as no other personality factor was associated with such a strong adjustment of decision strategies in the presence of punishment. These results demonstrate that anti-social personality characteristics are associated with strategic behavioral shifts aimed at maximizing the extraction of resources from their counterparts. The reliability of the strategic effects of anti-social personality during trust, reciprocity and punishment strongly supports the notion that self-projection underlies anti-social decision-making.

Keywords: trust, reciprocity, punishment, anti-social, personality, individual differences

JEL Classification: C71, D87, D91

Suggested Citation

Engelmann, Jan and Schmid, Basil and Chumbley, Justin and Fehr, Ernst, The Dark Side of Personality: Anti-Sociality Increases Strategic Game Play (January 26, 2018). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper 2018-010/I. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3110560 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3110560

Jan Engelmann (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology ( email )

Zurich, 8006
Switzerland

Basil Schmid

Institut für Verkehrsplanung ETH Zürich ( email )

Stefano-Franscini-Platz
5
Zürich, 8093
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.ivt.ethz.ch/en/people/person-detail.html?persid=130436

Justin Chumbley

ETH Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 101
ZUE F7
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Ernst Fehr

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Blümlisalpstrasse 10
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland
+41 1 634 3709 (Phone)
+41 1 634 4907 (Fax)

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