Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1205: Mine, Ours or Yours? Unintended Framing Effects in Dictator Games

Andreas Bergh () and Philipp C. Wichardt
Additional contact information
Andreas Bergh: Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), Postal: and Lund University
Philipp C. Wichardt: Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Postal: Dept. of Economics, Lund university;, Dept. of Economics, University of Rostock; CESifo Munich

Abstract: This paper reports results from a classroom dictator game comparing the effects of three different sets of standard instructions. As was shown by Oxoby and Spraggon (2008), inducing a feeling of entitlement – one subject earning the endowment – strongly affects allocations in dictator games towards the owner of the money (both dictator and receiver). The present results show that seemingly small differences in instructions induce fundamentally different perceptions regarding entitlement. Behavior is affected accordingly, i.e. instructions inducing subjects to perceive the task as distributive rather than a task of generosity lead to higher allocations to receivers (average 52% vs. 35%). A theoretical explanation integrating monetary as well as social incentives and emphasizing potential effects of uncertainty about the latter is discussed (cf. Bergh and Wichardt, 2018).

Keywords: Dictator games; Framing effects; Property rights; Social preferences

JEL-codes: C70; C91; D63

16 pages, March 28, 2018

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