Give and take in dictator games

By Alexander W. Cappelen, Ulrik H. Nielsen, Erik Ø. Sørensen, Berit Tungodden, and Jean-Robert Tyran

Published in:

Economics Letters, Volume 118, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 280–283.



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.


By By Cappelen, Alexander W., Nielsen, Ulrik H., Sørensen, Erik Ø., Tungodden, Bertil, and Tyran, Jean-Robert
Published Sep. 19, 2013 10:59 AM - Last modified Sep. 19, 2013 10:59 AM