Ultimatum Game with an Ethnicity Manipulation

Francisco J. Gil-White

in Foundations of Human Sociality

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780199262052
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601637 | DOI:
 Ultimatum Game with an Ethnicity Manipulation

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Two Ultimatum Game experiments conducted with the Torguud Mongols and the Kazakhs, people with a traditional pastoral–nomadic culture from Bulgan Sum, Khovd province, Western Mongolia, are reported: the first was an exploratory experiment involving only Torguuds, and the second a full‐fledged study, with ethnicity manipulation in which proposers and responders were of either the same or different ethnicity. On the question of how people from a small, nonindustrialized society perform in the Ultimatum Game (in comparison with western industrialized populations), the results obtained were paradoxical: responders were very reluctant to punish low offers, but proposers were very careful not to offend them, and made offers well above the empirically ascertained Income‐Maximizing Offer. It is argued that this result is consistent with a parallel paradox that Torguuds experience in their daily lives: people are very afraid of reputation loss, but there are no tangible consequences for those perceived to be ‘bad people’. The second result obtained from the study was that the behaviour of proposers and responders was not affected by having the opposing player be a member of a different ethnic group. This result is in conflict with explanations that have been offered for intergroup discrimination by the Social Identity Theory and the Realistic Conflict Theory so the assumptions that have justified explaining in‐group favouritism in ecologically valid groups (such as ethnies) in terms of these theories may need to be revisited.

Keywords: ethnicity manipulation; in‐group favouritism; intergroup discrimination; Kazakhs; Mongolia; offer size; pastoral–nomadic culture; proposer behaviour; Realistic Conflict Theory; reputation loss; responder behaviour; Social Identity Theory; Torguud Mongols; Ultimatum Game

Chapter.  16896 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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