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Article

Experimentally Induced Empathy does not Affect Monetarily Incentivized Dictator Game Behavior

Frontiers in Psychology. 2019. Vol. 10.
Walkowitz G., Lönnqvist J.

In a monetarily incentivized Dictator Game, we expected Dictators’ empathy toward the
Recipients to cause more pro-social allocations. Empathy was experimentally induced
via a commonly used perspective taking task. Dictators (N = 474) were instructed to split
an endowment of 10€ between themselves and an unknown Recipient. They could split
the money 8/2 (8€ for Dictator, 2€ for Recipient) or 5/5 (5€ each). Although the empathy
manipulation successfully increased Dictators’ feelings of empathy toward the Recipients,
Dictators’ decisions on how to split the money were not affected. We had ample statistical
power (above 0.99) to detect a typical social psychology effect (corresponding to r around
0.20). Other possible determinants of generosity in the Dictator Game should
be investigated.