Experimental Economics

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 1–26 | Cite as

Why did he do that? Using counterfactuals to study the effect of intentions in extensive form games

  • Yola Engler
  • Rudolf Kerschbamer
  • Lionel Page
Original Paper


We investigate the role of intentions in two-player two-stage games. For this purpose we systematically vary the set of opportunity sets the first mover can choose from and study how the second mover reacts not only to opportunities of gains but also of losses created by the choice of the first mover. We find that the possibility of gains for the second mover (generosity) and the risk of losses for the first mover (vulnerability) are important drivers for second mover behavior. On the other hand, efficiency concerns and an aversion against violating trust seem to be far less important motivations. We also find that second movers compare the actual choice of the first mover and the alternative choices that would have been available to him to allocations that involve equal material payoffs.


Social preferences Other-regarding preferences Intentions Reciprocity Trust game Experimental economics Behavioral economics 

JEL Classification

C91 C92 D63 D64 

Supplementary material

10683_2017_9522_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (216 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 216 KB)


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Economics and FinanceQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustralia

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