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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Jun;1167:66-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04505.x.

Experimental game theory and behavior genetics.

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  • 1Department of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA. cesarini@mit.edu


We summarize the findings from a research program studying the heritability of behavior in a number of widely used economic games, including trust, dictator, and ultimatum games. Results from the standard behavior genetic variance decomposition suggest that strategies and fundamental economic preference parameters are moderately heritable, with estimates ranging from 18 to 42%. In addition, we also report new evidence on so-called "hyperfair" preferences in the ultimatum game. We discuss the implications of our findings with special reference to current efforts that seek to understand the molecular genetic architecture of complex social behaviors.

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