Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Lund University, Department of Economics

No 2015:17: On the Malleability of Fairness Ideals: Order Effects in Partial and Impartial Allocation Tasks

Kathrin Dengler-Roscher (), Natalia Montinari (), Marian Panganiban (), Matteo Ploner () and Benedikt Werner ()
Additional contact information
Kathrin Dengler-Roscher: Institute of Economics, Ulm University, Postal: Institute of Economics, Room 1.26, Helmholtzstraße 18, Ulm University, 89081 Ulm, Germany
Natalia Montinari: Department of Economics, Lund University, Postal: Department of Economics, School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Box 7082, S-220 07 Lund, Sweden
Marian Panganiban: Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, Postal: Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10, , 53113 Bonn, Germany
Matteo Ploner: Department of Economics and Management, University of Trento
Benedikt Werner: Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn, Postal: Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10, , 53113 Bonn, Germany

Abstract: How malleable are people’s fairness ideals? Although fairness is an oft-invoked concept in allocation situations, it is still unclear whether and to what extent people’s allocations reflect their fairness ideals. We investigate in a laboratory experiment whether people’s fairness ideals vary with respect to changes in the order in which they undertake two allocation tasks. Participants first generate resources in a real- effort task and then distribute them. In the partial allocation task, the participant determines the earnings for himself and another participant. In the impartial allocation task, the participant determines the earnings for two other participants. We also manipulate the participants’ experience, i.e., whether they took part in similar allocation experiments before. We find that participants are more likely to allocate more resources to themselves than what they earned in the real-effort task when they decide partially. Exclusively for inexperienced participants, deciding impartially first dampens selfish behavior when they decide partially.

Keywords: Fairness; Proportionality Principle; Dictator; Partial Stakeholders; Impartial Spectators; Fairness Bias

JEL-codes: C72; C91; D63; D64

39 pages, June 8, 2015

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