Experimental Design

Online experiment. Within- and between-subject design.

The experiment consists of five stages.

Stage 1: Subjects are asked to choose between two divisions of 6 GBP between themselves and another participant they are randomly paired with. In the equitable division E, both subjects get 3 GBP. In the selfish division S, the dictator gets 5 GBP and the passive recipient they are paired with gets 1 GBP. Stage 1 differs from a standard dictator game in two respects: First, dictators need to buy the right to implement the selfish payoff division. Second, buying this right does not ensure that allocation S is implemented, but only increases the probability from zero to 36%. We use an incentive compatible price list approach to elicit the dictators’ willingness to pay.

The probability of 36% is identical to the frequency of dictators in a preceding study who chose S. This previous study was run only for getting this frequency. With the counter-probability of 64%, the allocation will be E even when dictators pay for increasing the probability that S is implemented.

Stage 2: The incentive structure of the dictator game is identical to stage 1, but dictators can now increase the probability that S is implemented by buying the right to be randomly matched with one of the subjects in the previous experiment. Before eliciting their willingness to pay, dictators are informed that the frequency of dictators who chose S in the preceding experiment was 36%.

50% of our subjects will first play stage 1, and the other 50% will first play stage 2.

Stages 3 and 4: Subjects now take the role of passive players for stages 1 and 2, and one of the four stages will randomly be paid out.

Stage 5: Subjects are incentivized for guessing how many of 10 randomly chosen subjects in the experiment have a positive willingness to pay. 50% of subjects each are asked for the stage with and without delegation. We also ask all subjects about their risk attitudes, their feeling of responsibility when making/delegating a decision that harms a third person.

The study will be conducted on Prolific. Subjects registered on Prolific platform can take part in our experiment. To ensure high data quality, we require subjects to be fluent in English, to reside in either UK or USA, be at least 18 years old, and to have an approval rate of at least 95%. In addition, we will ask four control questions in the first part of the experiment and two control questions in the second part. If subjects answer more than two questions in the first part incorrectly, they cannot proceed to the decision stage, have to leave the study, and do not receive a bonus. Similarly, it they answer both questions incorrectly in the second part, they cannot proceed to the decision stage of the second part, have to leave the study, and do not receive a bonus. Data already collected for subjects who have to leave the study will be excluded from the analysis.