High Stakes and Acceptance Behavior in Ultimatum Bargaining

Theory and Decision 53 (3):187-207 (2002)
This paper presents the results of a within-subject experiment testing whether an increase in the monetary stakes by a factor of 50 – which had never been done before – influences individual behavior in a simple ultimatum bargaining game. Contrary to current wisdom, we found that lowest acceptable offers stated by the responder are proportionally lower in the high-stake condition than in the low-stake condition. This result may be interpreted in terms of the type of utility functions which characterize the subjects. However, in line with prior results, we find that an important increase of the monetary stakes in the ultimatum game has no effect on the offers made by the proposer. Yet, the present research suggests that the reasons underlying these offers are quite different when the stakes are high
Keywords Experiment  Lowest acceptable offfers  Monetary stakes  Ultimatum
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