The Heaven Dictator Game: Costless taking or giving

Garcia-Gallego, Aurora; Georgantzis, Nikolaos; Ruiz-Martos, Maria J.

VL / 82 - BP / - EP /
We present experimental data from the Heaven-Dictator Game, a generalization of the Dictator Game that investigates the overstatement of inequality reduction in the motivation of social preferences. Two players start with equal endowments and the Heaven-Dictator player, without incurring any pecuniary cost or profit, chooses among increasing, decreasing or maintaining the earnings of the recipient player. Any choice except for the status quo generates unequal payoffs. The design avoids the experimenter demand effect of the standard "give only" version while simultaneously allowing participants to manifest antisocial preferences, inequity reduction or retaliation cannot be called for as motives. We find that the majority (75.4%) of subjects choose to increase their partners' earnings; there is a non-negligible 24.6% of subjects that either choose the status quo (11.9%) or to decrease (12.7%) others' earnings. Based on the psychological literature on music as a mood-inducing stimulus and on the effects of mood on helping behavior, we study the effect of exposure to different types of music on the Heaven-Dictator choices. Although at first sight observed distributional preferences are independent of the music condition, further analysis reveals that classical music seems to foster social welfare rather than inequality aversion.

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