White men can’t run experimental games

"Don't mind me, I'm just here as a passive observer."

The  Roving Bandit tipped me off about a (preliminary, so results may change) paper by Jacobus Cilliers, Oeindrila Dube and Bilal Siddiqi which finds that replacing a passive Sierra Leonean supervisor with a white foreigner causes experimental subjects to act more generous in dictator games:

Can the presence of white foreigners in?uence measured behavior in developing countries? We experimentally vary foreigner presence across behavioral games conducted in 60 communities in Sierra Leone, and assess its impact on standard measures of generosity. We fi?nd that foreigner presence substantially increases player contributions in dictator games, by as much as 23 percent.

This is the first time I’ve seen an explanatory variable labeled “white-man.” It suddenly makes me wonder about every single interview I’ve ever sat in on.

Jacobus sits behind me in the economics department at Oxford – I can’t say for sure if his being there has made me a more giving person or not.


4 thoughts on “White men can’t run experimental games

  1. Suvojit

    February 14, 2012 at 6:27am

    Hopefully not much money was wasted on this cutesy, but obvious study

  2. Matt

    February 14, 2012 at 9:57am

    Probably none at all – they were almost certainly running the experimental games for some other purpose, and introducing an extra, costless intervention to see if there was an effect seems to me to be pretty worthwhile.

  3. Nicolas Dickinson

    February 20, 2012 at 9:18am

    The link to the paper appears to be broken. Would be interesting to see.

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