Experimental Economics

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 727–740 | Cite as

Fairness is intuitive

  • Alexander W. Cappelen
  • Ulrik H. Nielsen
  • Bertil Tungodden
  • Jean-Robert Tyran
  • Erik WengströmEmail author
Original Paper


In this paper we provide new evidence showing that fair behavior is intuitive to most people. We find a strong association between a short response time and fair behavior in the dictator game. This association is robust to controls that take account of the fact that response time might be affected by the decision-maker’s cognitive ability and swiftness. The experiment was conducted with a large and heterogeneous sample recruited from the general population in Denmark. We find a striking similarity in the association between response time and fair behavior across groups in the society, which suggests that the predisposition to act fairly is a general human trait.


Response time Dictator game Experiment Fairness 

JEL Classification

C90  D03 D60 



This paper has benefited from comments made by David G. Rand and seminar participants at the NHH Norwegian School of Economics and the University of Copenhagen. We are grateful to the Carlsberg Foundation for providing financial support and to Statistics Denmark for collaboration. The project has also received financial support from the Research Council of Norway (Grant No. 202484) and the Ragnar Söderberg Foundation. We also acknowledge the assistance received from Toke Fosgaard, Eva Gregersen, Lars Gårn Hansen, Nikolaos Korfiatis, Ditte Mørup, Louise Skouby, Anja Skadkær Møller, and Thomas A. Stephens.

Supplementary material

10683_2015_9463_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (205 kb)
(PDF 205 kb)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander W. Cappelen
    • 1
  • Ulrik H. Nielsen
    • 2
  • Bertil Tungodden
    • 1
  • Jean-Robert Tyran
    • 2
    • 3
  • Erik Wengström
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of EconomicsNHH Norwegian School of EconomicsBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of CopenhagenKøbenhavn KDenmark
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  4. 4.Department of EconomicsLund UniversityLundSweden

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