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Individual differences in good manners rather than compassion predict fair allocations of wealth in the dictator game

Zhao, Kun; Ferguson, Eamonn; Smillie, Luke D.

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Authors

Kun Zhao

EAMONN FERGUSON eamonn.ferguson@nottingham.ac.uk
Professor of Health Psychology

Luke D. Smillie



Abstract

Objective. One of the most common tools for studying prosociality is the dictator game, in which allocations to one’s partner are often described in terms of altruism. However, there is less consensus regarding the motivations driving these allocations, which may represent either emotional concern for others (compassion), adherence to social norms regarding fairness (politeness), or both.
Method. In this paper, we apply personality psychology to the study of behavior in the dictator game, in which we examine the discriminant validity of distinct prosocial constructs from the Big Five and HEXACO models in relation to allocations of wealth.
Results. Across four studies (combined N = 798) utilizing both hypothetical and incentivized designs, we found that the politeness—but not compassion—aspect of Big Five agreeableness, as well as HEXACO honesty-humility, uniquely predicted dictator allocations within their respective personality models.
Conclusions. These findings contribute to a growing literature indicating that the standard dictator game measures “good manners” or adherence to norms concerning fairness, rather than pure emotional concern or compassionate motives, which have important implications for how this paradigm is used and interpreted in psychological research.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 21, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 8, 2016
Deposit Date Dec 21, 2015
Publicly Available Date Feb 8, 2016
Journal Journal of Personality
Print ISSN 0022-3506
Electronic ISSN 1467-6494
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/jopy.12237
Keywords dictator game; agreeableness; politeness; compassion; honesty-humility
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/776829
Publisher URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jopy.12237/abstract

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