Two studies on the interplay between social preferences and individual biological features

Santiago Sanchez-Pages, Enrique Turiegano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Biological features and social preferences have been studied separately as factors influencing human strategic behaviour. 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’ behaviour 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 than the effect of biological features even though the latter is 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 behaviour both directly and through their relation with the type of social preferences that individuals hold.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-735
JournalBehaviour
Volume150
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • testosterone
  • ultimatum game
  • Fluctuating asymmetry
  • facial masculinity
  • 2D:4D
  • social preferences

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