Two Studies on the Interplay between Social Preferences and Individual Biological Features

Santiago Sanchez-Pages, E. Turiegano

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

Abstract / Description of output

Biological features and social preferences have been studied separately as factors influencing human strategic behavior. We run two studies in order to explore the interplay between these two sets of factors. In the first study, we investigate to what extent social preferences may have some biological underpinnings. We use simple one-shot distribution experiments to attribute subjects one out of four types of social preferences: Self-interested (SI), Competitive (C), Inequality averse (IA), and Efficiency-seeking (ES). We then investigate whether these four groups display differences in their levels of facial Fluctuating Asymmetry (FA) and in proxies for exposure to testosterone during phoetal development and puberty. We observe that development-related biological features and social preferences are relatively independent. In the second study, we compare the relative weight of these two set of factors by studying how they affect subjects' behavior in the Ultimatum Game (UG). We find differences in offers made and rejection rates across the four social preference groups. The effect of social preferences is stronger that the effect of biological features even though the latter in significant. We also report a novel link between facial masculinity (a proxy for exposure to testosterone during puberty) and rejection rates in the UG. Our results suggest that biological features influence behavior both directly and through their relation with the type of social preferences that individuals hold.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Publication series

NameESE Discussion Papers

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • testosterone
  • ultimatum game
  • fluctuating asymmetry
  • facial masculinity
  • 2D
  • 3D
  • social preferences


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