Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


Economics (ECON)

First Advisor

Dr. Prachi Jain


Because perceptions of luck, hard work, and the idea of a “me vs. you” mindset often influence people’s ideas of fairness, it is important to understand these perceptions and how they can affect giving and support for redistributive policies. To better understand the factors that influence people to give or not give to others, I created two modified dictator games to answer the research questions, “How does the generation of initial allocation in a dictator game affect perceptions of deservingness?” and “How does competitive and cooperative priming affect dictator allocation choices between efficiency and inefficiency?” By varying the way the initial budget is generated (based on chance, effort-based earnings, or a combination) and analyzing participants’ dictator allocations and survey responses regarding redistributive preferences and fairness views, I find that the Combination treatment creates a significant increase in giving percentage, a stronger belief in luck affecting poverty and failure, a stronger belief that taxing high-income families is efficient, and support for redistribution and fairness. The Effort treatment surprisingly does not affect the amount given, but produces an increase in the likelihood of giving a nonzero sum and an increased score in the survey efficiency index. By varying a competitive, cooperative, or neutral priming stage before the second dictator game, I find that no effect of these treatments on basic giving and mixed results of these treatments on prioritizing self-interest versus efficiency. The results of this research will provide illumination into the factors affecting how we think about generosity to others, perhaps lending insight into how we may more effectively think about welfare and redistribution programs, but also highlight the factors that need further research and investigation.