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The indirect evolutionary approach to explaining fair allocations. (English) Zbl 0937.91024
Summary: Experimental results on the ultimatum game show clearly that (1) large fractions of players offer a “fair” allocation and (2) that unfair (but positive) offers are systematically rejected. The authors offer an explanation of this behavior using the “indirect evolutionary approach” which is based on the assumption that players behave rationally for given preferences but that their preferences change through an evolutionary process. They prove that despite anonymous interaction a preference for punishing unfair offers is an evolutionarily successful strategy if players interact in small groups. This leads players to split the resource equally almost always. However, the equal split is not due to “true fairness” (or “altruism”) but is entirely caused by the (justified) fear that unfair offers might be rejected.

MSC:
91A22 Evolutionary games
91A50 Discrete-time games
91A20 Multistage and repeated games
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