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The Cultural Ultimatum

Here's an old one:

Poll #1612571 The Ultimatum Game

You are given $100 and asked to share it with someone else. You can offer that person any amount and if he accepts the offer, you each get to keep your share. If he rejects your offer, you both walk away empty-handed. How much would you offer?

Mean: 49.29 Median: 50 Std. Dev 7.28
0(0.0%)
0
0(0.0%)
5
0(0.0%)
10
0(0.0%)
15
0(0.0%)
20
0(0.0%)
25
0(0.0%)
30
0(0.0%)
35
1(7.1%)
40
1(7.1%)
45
1(7.1%)
50
10(71.4%)
55
0(0.0%)
60
0(0.0%)
65
0(0.0%)
70
1(7.1%)
75
0(0.0%)
80
0(0.0%)
85
0(0.0%)
90
0(0.0%)
95
0(0.0%)
100
0(0.0%)

If you were going to be the person the money was offered to, how much would you need to be offered to accept?

Mean: 25.00 Median: 17.5 Std. Dev 17.44
0(0.0%)
0
0(0.0%)
5
4(33.3%)
10
1(8.3%)
15
0(0.0%)
20
0(0.0%)
25
1(8.3%)
30
1(8.3%)
35
1(8.3%)
40
2(16.7%)
45
0(0.0%)
50
2(16.7%)
55
0(0.0%)
60
0(0.0%)
65
0(0.0%)
70
0(0.0%)
75
0(0.0%)
80
0(0.0%)
85
0(0.0%)
90
0(0.0%)
95
0(0.0%)
100
0(0.0%)


Interestingly, most westerners would apparently offer around half of the money and are likely to reject offers of less than around $40. Not entirely unexpected, living in a western culture that's definitely the way people appear to behave (personally I was going to offer most of it - not sure what that says about me).

However, that brings me onto this interesting article on cultural divides in psychology:

Westerners vs. the World: We are the WEIRD ones



Again it's not exactly surprising. You would expect culture to have an influence on our decisions, especially when it comes to something as fundamental to western society as money. Somehow we always seem to forget this and expect the whole world to behave as we do.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
feanelwa
30th Aug, 2010 11:01 (UTC)
Hm, I can think of another perspective, that it depends on affluence and resource security as well as culture. If somebody gave me £50 I would probably spend it on canoeing kit, but someody else e.g. Chilean villagers would probably spend it on food and school fees and medicine that they vitally need, so to be honest I am not that good a use of £50 so I don't really mind giving it to somebody else, whereas the Chilean villager knows that treating his sick child is definitely a good use of £50. Meanwhile if somebody gives me a portion of £100 I assume they know how broke they are and if they want to keep £95 of it then fine, and if they're not broke just very bad at looking after their money it's still no loss to me since I don't exactly have a starving family to support. I wonder if they did this experiment with wealthy, secure people in different cultures as well.
packbat
30th Aug, 2010 21:49 (UTC)
It's my understanding that amounts are usually calibrated to local income - I did a Google search and the first result talked about using a day's wages (equivalent to ~$1 US).

It would be interesting to see how the size of the paycheck affects things, though.
feanelwa
31st Aug, 2010 11:07 (UTC)
And the nature of their income - I would expect seasonal or casual workers to be less generous than people with a steady reliable job.
resuscitation
30th Aug, 2010 13:02 (UTC)
the way I look at it is that that person needs me to get any cash, but I also need him to get any cash too. Therefor the fairest thing to do since we need each other is to split it down the middle.

As for it being the other way around, I would expect it to be split down the middle. However, I'd except less if I felt it was worth while, even if secretly I'd be a bit pissed at the person for not splitting it down the middle. If they offered me more I'd try and give some back to make it even, it just seems fair that way.
theinquisitor
30th Aug, 2010 23:11 (UTC)
It's only 100 dollars. That's little enough that I'd be bloody minded enough to refuse anything under 50, and as such would expect other people to do the same.

Ask me again for a million, and it gets interesting (probably '$100,000' and 'almost anything, if I could be convinced it was legitimate').
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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