Next Article in Journal
How to Analyze Models of Nonlinear Public Goods
Next Article in Special Issue
Gender Differences in the Response to Decision Power and Responsibility—Framing Effects in a Dictator Game
Previous Article in Journal
Sequential Auctions with Capacity Constraints: An Experimental Investigation
Article Menu

Export Article

Open AccessArticle

Theory of Mind and General Intelligence in Dictator and Ultimatum Games

School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, Technische Universität München, Alte Akademie 12, 85354 Freising, Germany
Department of Economics, 1601 University Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
RAND Corporation, 4570 Fifth Ave #600, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Games 2018, 9(2), 16;
Received: 5 March 2018 / Revised: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 28 March 2018 / Published: 30 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dictator Games)
PDF [56216 KB, uploaded 3 May 2018]


Decreasing social sensitivity (i.e., the ability of a person to perceive, understand, and respect the feelings and viewpoints of others), has been shown to facilitate selfish behavior. This is not only true for exogenous changes in social sensitivity, but also for social sensitivity influenced by someone’s social cognition. In this analysis, we examined one measure of social cognition, namely a person’s Theory of Mind (ToM), to examine differences in decision-making in standard non-strategic and strategic environments (dictator and ultimatum games). We found that participants with higher ToM gave a greater share in the non-strategic environment. In the ultimatum game, however, ToM showed no correlation with the offers of the ultimators. Instead, we found that general intelligence scores—measured by the Wonderlic test—shared a negative, albeit weak, correlation with the amount offered in the ultimatum game. Thus, we find that lower social cognition is an important explanatory variable for selfish behavior in a non-strategic environment, while general intelligence shares some correlation in a strategic environment. Similar to the change in social sensitivity created by a specific game design, social sensitivity influenced by individual personality traits can influence behavior in non-strategic environments. View Full-Text
Keywords: dictator game; ultimatum game; theory of mind; intelligence; experiment dictator game; ultimatum game; theory of mind; intelligence; experiment

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Lang, H.; DeAngelo, G.; Bongard, M. Theory of Mind and General Intelligence in Dictator and Ultimatum Games. Games 2018, 9, 16.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics



[Return to top]
Games EISSN 2073-4336 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top