Social Science


Emotions, Self-Interest and Self-Worth in Minimal Bargaining Interactions

Authors: Ramzi Suleiman, Yuval Samid

Studies on the ultimatum game explain the rejection of low offers as costly punishment imposed by responders on unfair proposers. It is also argued that negative emotions serve as the proximate mechanism for such behavior. This article reports two experimental studies demonstrating that the rejection of low offers is also driven by a desire to maintain a sense of self-worth and that negative emotions alone are poor predictors of responders’ rejections. For this purpose we used a novel variant of the ultimatum game, in which rejecting an offer results in the proposer keeping the entire amount, thus eliminating the possibility of punishment and replacing it with a possible positive reinforcement. Although rejections entail rewarding the proposers instead of punishing them, a sizable percentage of the responders rejected low offers. Accepting low offers was found to be associated with the desire for profit maximization, while rejecting similarly low offers was associated with the desire to maintain self-worth. The evolutionary puzzle of rejecting low offers, even at a cost of rewarding unfair proposers, is resolved by adopting a wider framework of human interactions; one which accounts not only for the bearing of an interaction on the players' material capital, but also on their symbolic capital. Within such a framework, the rejection of low offers in the investigated game, as in many significant real-life situations, is explained as costly signals aimed at protecting attributes of symbolic capital, such as self-worth, status and prestige.

Comments: 40 Pages.

Download: PDF

Submission history

[v1] 2015-11-20 20:14:18

Unique-IP document downloads: 40 times is a pre-print repository rather than a journal. Articles hosted may not yet have been verified by peer-review and should be treated as preliminary. In particular, anything that appears to include financial or legal advice or proposed medical treatments should be treated with due caution. will not be responsible for any consequences of actions that result from any form of use of any documents on this website.

Add your own feedback and questions here:
You are equally welcome to be positive or negative about any paper but please be polite. If you are being critical you must mention at least one specific error, otherwise your comment will be deleted as unhelpful.

comments powered by Disqus