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Unformatted text preview: Survey Research Methods (2007) Vol.1 , No.3 , pp. 139-144 ISSN 1864-3361 http: // www.surveymethods.org c European Survey Research Association Measuring Altruistic Behavior in Surveys: The All-or-Nothing Dictator Game Rene Bekkers Utrecht University A field study of altruistic behaviour is presented using a modification of the dictator game in a large random sample survey in the Netherlands (n = 1,964). In line with laboratory experiments, only 5.7% donated money. In line with other survey research on giving, generosity increased with age, education, income, trust, and prosocial value orientation. Keywords: Altruism, Dictator game, Field experiments, Philanthropy Introduction Respondents in surveys are sometimes compensated for participation with monetary incentives. This practice can be used e ff ectively to study altruistic behaviour. Because altruis- tic behaviour is socially desirable, self-reports on altruistic be- haviour in surveys are prone to self-presentation e ff ects. This paper presents a simple method to study altruistic behaviour in a survey context, based on an experiment commonly used in behavioural economics: the dictator game. In economics, the dictator game (Eckel and Grossman 1996; Ho ff man, McCabe and Smith 1996) has become well known for its results violating predictions based on rational choice models of human behavior with orthodox assump- tions on self-interest (Camerer 2003). Typically, the dictator game is played as follows. Participants receive a show-up fee (e.g., $5 in Eckel and Grossman 1996 and Ho ff man, McCabe and Smith 1996) upon arrival at the laboratory. Then partici- pants unexpectedly receive an endowment (usually $10), to be used in a decision problem. Participants are assigned either of two roles: of recipient or allocator. A participant in the role of allocator can allocate her endowment to herself or to a randomly chosen anonymous other participant (the recipient). The allocator can allocate any desired amount ($0, $1, . . . , $10) to the recipient. Unlike other games (e.g., the ultimatum game), the recipient has no power to refuse the money. When the allocation is made, the game ends. Recipients and allocators are paid and debriefed. When allocators are assumed to behave as rational ego- ists, they should keep the entire endowment to themselves. However, a substantial minority of participants in dictator games allocates at least some portion of the endowment to the anonymous other. According to Camerer (2003), the proportion of participants giving away nothing at all from their endowment varies from 0 to 93%, with an average of Contact information: ICS / Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS Utrecht, the Netherlands (email@example.com)....
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