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Getting a Yes. An Experiment on the Power of Asking

Bruttel, Lisa and Stolley, Florian and Utikal, Verena (2018): Getting a Yes. An Experiment on the Power of Asking.

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Abstract

This paper studies how the request for a favor has to be devised in order to maximize its chance of success. We present results from a mini-dictator game in which giving entails an efficiency gain. In this laboratory experiment, the recipient can send a free-form text message to the dictator before the latter decides. We find that the content of a message does matter for the decision to give. Putting effort into the message and writing in a humorous way pays off. We argue that this can be interpreted in terms of reciprocity. Mentioning reasons why the money is needed increases the generosity of dictators as well. Additionally, we find differences in the behavior of male and female dictators. Only men react positively to efficiency arguments, while only women react to messages that emphasize the power and responsibility of the dictator.

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