Opportunism and the Role of Financial Incentives: An Experimental Analysis Based on Game Theory
ABSTRACT In this study, we measured how people would take advantage of others’ misinformation, when the financial incentive size changes in economic games. We conducted a laboratory experiment based on game theory, using a modified version of the ultimatum game, where proposers had the opportunity to manipulate the responder’s beliefs by the use of ‘hide behind the small cake’ strategy. Our results contradict the selfish rationality model predictions. Intermediary financial incentives led people to adopt extremes strategies of pure fair/selfish allocation. Greater levels of financial incentive reduced the full expropriation strategy and at the same time, reduced the presence of fair offers, which suggests an interesting interaction between opportunism and psychological costs of lying. The results showed that opportunism is hugely context-dependent and people will update their decision regarding opportunism in accordance with the financial size incentive. Thus, the same person can behave differently depending on the financial value involved and will not necessarily be more selfish when the financial amount increases.