hero working papers

Frustration and Anger in the Ultimatum Game: An Experiment

Number: 621
Year: 2018
Author(s): Chiara Aina, Pierpaolo Battigalli, Astrid Gamba
In social dilemmas, choices may depend on belief-dependent motivations enhancing the credibility of promises or threats at odds with personal gain maximization. We address this issue theoretically and experimentally in the context of the Ultimatum Minigame, assuming that the choice of accepting or rejecting an unfair proposal is affected by a combination of frustration, due to unfulfilled expectations, and inequity aversion. We increase the responder's payoff from the default allocation (the proposer's outside option) with the purpose of increasing the responder's frustration due to the unfair proposal, and thus his willingness to reject it. In addition, we manipulate the method of play, with the purpose of switching on (direct response method) and off (strategy method) the responder's experience of anger. Our behavioral predictions across and within treatments are derived from the theoretical model complemented by explicit auxiliary assumptions, without relying on equilibrium analysis.

Keywords: Experiments, psychological games, ultimatum minigame, frustration, anger, non-equilibrium analysis
JEL codes: C72, C91, D03