Prosocial personality traits differentially predict egalitarianism, generosity, and reciprocity in economic games

Zhao, Kun, Ferguson, Eamonn and Smillie, Luke D. (2016) Prosocial personality traits differentially predict egalitarianism, generosity, and reciprocity in economic games. Frontiers in Psychology, 7 . 1137/1-1137/18. ISSN 1664-1078

Full text not available from this repository.


Recent research has highlighted the role of prosocial personality traits—agreeableness and honesty-humility—in egalitarian distributions of wealth in the dictator game. Expanding on these findings, we ran two studies to examine individual differences in two other forms of prosociality—generosity and reciprocity—with respect to two major models of personality, the Big Five and the HEXACO. Participants (combined N = 560) completed a series of economic games in which allocations in the dictator game were compared with those in the generosity game, a non-constant-sum wealth distribution task where proposers with fixed payoffs selected the size of their partner’s payoff (“generosity”). We further examined positive and negative reciprocity by manipulating a partner’s previous move (“reciprocity”). Results showed clear evidence of both generosity and positive reciprocity in social preferences, with allocations to a partner greater in the generosity game than in the dictator game, and greater still when a player had been previously assisted by their partner. There was also a consistent interaction with gender, whereby men were more generous when this was costless and women were more egalitarian overall. Furthermore, these distinct forms of prosociality were differentially predicted by personality traits, in line with the core features of these traits and the theoretical distinctions between them. HEXACO honesty-humility predicted dictator, but not generosity allocations, while traits capturing tendencies towards irritability and anger predicted lower generosity, but not dictator allocations. In contrast, the politeness—but not compassion—aspect of Big Five agreeableness was uniquely and broadly associated with prosociality across all games. These findings support the discriminant validity between related prosocial constructs, and have important implications for understanding the motives and mechanisms taking place within economic games.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This Document is Protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. it is reproduced with permission.
Keywords: Dictator game, Social preferences, Honesty-humility, Agreeableness, Politeness, Compassion, Big five, HEXACO
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Ferguson, Eamonn
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2016 14:53
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 18:07

Actions (Archive Staff Only)

Edit View Edit View