Social motives are frequently used to explain deviations from selfishness in non-strategic settings such as the Dictator Game. Previous research has mainly focused on two-player games; the workings of social motives in multiplayer Dictator Games are less well understood. A core feature of multiplayer games is that players can consider inequalities between others, in addition to outcomes that have two-player analogues, such as social efficiency and the inequality between self and others. We expect that existing models of social motives can be improved if players are allowed to consider the inequality between others. Results from two laboratory experiments confirm this: motives for the inequality between others were found, and these motives could not be reduced to motives with dyadic analogues. Explorative analyses show that our findings are robust to a number of potential misspecifications: motives for the inequality between others were also found when utility included non-linear evaluations of inequality, and when alternative types of self-other comparison mechanisms were modeled. Thus, to adequately capture social motives in multiplayer games, models should account for the complexities of the multiplayer setting. We speculate that our findings also hold for strategic games; but further research is needed to elucidate this.
social motives game theory games non-selfish preferences welfare inequality multi-player games Dictator Game