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Humans expect generosity

Humans expect generosity

Along with Pablo Brañas Garza and Ismael Rodriguez-Lara, from Middlesex University’s Business School, we have published a new study in Scientific Reports that shows that most people expects generous behavior from others. The research explored people’s expectations of generosity in a series of controlled experiments using the dictator game (DG). The DG is a simple one-shot game with two players: the first one (the dictator) is invited to divide a specific amount of money between himself and the second player (the recipient). The dictator then divides this in any way he chooses, while the recipient is not permitted to make any claim to the money.

205 participants were recruited for the study in total with 150 students taking part in laboratory computerised experiments in Spain and others involved in field studies in Mexico.Participants in the research took part under different conditions including recipients in the laboratory guessing their own and others’ donations, recipients in the field guessing their own donations, recipients in the laboratory paired with absent dictators and dictators guessing the donation of other dictators. We investigated the expectations the recipients had of their dictators and while theory predicts that the latter would give nothing, the research shows that the majority (60%) of subjects expected an equal split from their dictators, and only a 10% of the subjects expect to receive nothing.

The paper has appeared in Scientific Reports and is freely available from their website. A Spanish popularized description of the experiment can be found in Nada es Gratis.


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