Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Discussion Paper Series in Economics,
Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics

No 14/2012: Give and Take in Dictator Games.

Alexander W. Cappelen (), Ulrik H. Nielsen , Erik Ø. Sørensen (), Bertil Tungodden () and Jean-Robert Tyran
Additional contact information
Alexander W. Cappelen: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Ulrik H. Nielsen: University of Copenhagen, Postal: Copenhagen, Denmark
Erik Ø. Sørensen: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Bertil Tungodden: Dept. of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Postal: NHH , Department of Economics, Helleveien 30, N-5045 Bergen, Norway
Jean-Robert Tyran: University of Vienna, Postal: Vienna, Austria

Abstract: It has been shown that participants in the dictator game are less willing to give money to the other participant when their choice set also includes the option to take money. We examine whether this effect is due to the choice set providing a signal about entitlements in a setting where entitlements initially may be considered unclear. We find that the share of positive transfers depends on the choice set even when there is no uncertainty about entitlements, and that this choice-set effect is robust across a heterogenous group of participants recruited from the general adult population in Denmark. The findings are consistent with dictator giving partly being motivated by a desire to signal that one is not entirely selfish or by a desire to follow a social norm that is choice-set dependent.

Keywords: Dictator game; motivation; choice

JEL-codes: C91; D63

9 pages, July 6, 2012

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