Experimental Economics

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 349–371 | Cite as

Do people care about social context? Framing effects in dictator games

  • Anna Dreber
  • Tore Ellingsen
  • Magnus Johannesson
  • David G. Rand


Many previous experiments document that behavior in multi-person settings responds to the name of the game and the labeling of strategies. With a few exceptions, these studies cannot tell whether frames affect preferences or beliefs. In three large experiments, we investigate whether social framing effects are also present in Dictator games. Since only one of the subjects makes a decision, the frame can affect behavior merely through preferences. In all the experiments, we find that behavior is insensitive to social framing. We discuss how to reconcile the absence of social framing effects in Dictator games with the presence of social framing effects in Ultimatum games.


Framing Dictator game Social preferences 

JEL Classification




Thanks to Rachel Sheketoff, Nils Wernerfelt and Xiaoqi Zhou for research assistance and to Jordi Brandts and two anonymous referees for helpful comments. Financial support from the Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation and the Swedish Research Council is gratefully acknowledged, and DGR is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Supplementary material

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(DOCX 248 kB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Dreber
    • 1
  • Tore Ellingsen
    • 1
  • Magnus Johannesson
    • 1
  • David G. Rand
    • 2
  1. 1.Stockholm School of EconomicsStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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