Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 6 > Issue 2

Asymmetric Social Distance Effects in the Ultimatum Game

Orestis Vravosinos, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain, Kyriakos Konstantinou, London School of Economics, UK,
Suggested Citation
Orestis Vravosinos and Kyriakos Konstantinou (2019), "Asymmetric Social Distance Effects in the Ultimatum Game", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 6: No. 2, pp 159-192.

Published: 16 Apr 2019
© 2019 O. Vravosinos and K. Konstantinou
Behavioral Economics,  Experimental Economics,  Psychology,  Game Theory
JEL Codes: C70C91D63D91
Ultimatum gamesocial distanceother-regarding behaviorrelationshipnegative valenceasymmetry, stakes

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In this article:
1. Introduction
2. Literature Review In this section, we first review
3. Methodology and Hypotheses tested
4. Results & Discussion
5. Concluding Remarks


We argue that in the ultimatum game the effects of altruistic behavior and reciprocity vary more in the spectrum of positively compared to negatively-valenced relationships. Thus, we suggest that social distance effects are asymmetric. Our experimental results support this hypothesis; in the region of positively-valenced relationships, the proposers increase the percentage they offer as relationship quality increases more drastically compared to when the relationship is negatively-valenced, in which case they appear more invariant to relationship effects. Also, by eliciting a minimum share which the responder is willing to accept out of the total sum, we provide clearer results on the social distance and stakes effects on the latter’s behavior. We find a negative effect of relationship quality on the minimum acceptable share. This contradicts a strand of the literature which suggests that closer-“in-group” individuals may be punished more severely, so that cooperation in a group is maintained.