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The dark side of fair play
Date:3/7/2014

ss usually gets flushed out of the system since it's more beneficial for both the first player (the proposer) to suggest unfair offers and for the second player (the responder) to accept them.

"Evolutionary models don't match what we're observing in real life," Smead said. Clearly, he thought, there must be something else going on.

In the new study, Smead and Forber considered that the ultimatum game is actually quite unlike the real world. It's an extremely simplified simulation of one of infinite ways that two individuals could act. The researchers couldn't, for obvious reasons, make the game as complex and nuanced as real world social interactions, but they could instead just add a little more nuance to it and see what happened.

So that's what they did. In their new version of the game, the researchers introduced something called "negative assortment." Think of assortment as the likelihood that a person you're interacting with is similar to you. In negative assortment, that likelihood is low, so in the ultimatum game the players would likely use different strategies.

Here's where spite comes back into play. If you and I both commit to just making fair offers, but my strategy is to accept all offersbe they fair or unfairand yours is to accept only fair ones, we are different. A spiteful strategy would be to both make only unfair offers, but reject such offers when they come from the other person.

In the original version of the ultimatum game, a spiteful player will usually walk away with nothing and forfeit the game. But with negative assortment, spite becomes common and actually ends up promoting fairness. "Acting fairly protects you from spite," Smead explained.

Think of it this way. A "gamesman" is someone who only makes unfair offers to benefit himself but accepts whatever comes his way because he believes it'll all wash out in the end. "Gamesmen become a target for spite because they're making unfair offer
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Contact: Emily Bhatti
e.bhatti@neu.edu
617-373-3287
Northeastern University
Source:Eurekalert

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