Branko Radulović, Aleksandar Mojasevic

DOI Number
First page
Last page


The subject of this paper is spite and spiteful behaviour from the point of view of behavioural economics. We conducted an experimental study using a ’mini-ultimatum game‘ with complete information about payoffs and unfavourable outside option. The sample consists of 748 undergraduate students from the Faculty of Law of the University of Niš and the Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade. In a between-subjects design, 604 different participants are tested in the control and treatment group. In the within-subjects experiment, 144 subjects served as their own control group. The main finding is that there is a statistically significant relationship between the outside option and the respondents’ choice, with roughly one-third of respondents exhibiting spiteful behaviour. Also, we found a statistically significant difference between Belgrade and Niš concerning the insistence on fair treatment, but no difference when examining the share of spiteful respondents - no regional effects on spiteful behaviour. We did not find a difference between gender concerning fair treatment, but females in Niš exhibited weakly significant level of spiteful behaviour. The study opens the door to further research with an emphasis on other subjects aimed at covering different age groups and capturing additional characteristics of the spiteful behaviour.


spite, reciprocity, fairness, spiteful behaviour, ultimatum offer

Full Text:



Abbink, K., & Sadrieh, A. (2009). The pleasure of being nasty. Economics Letters, 105(3), 306–308. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.econlet.2009.08.024

Ai, C., & Norton, E. C. (2003). Interaction terms in logit and probit models. Economics Letters, 80(1), 123–129. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/S0165-1765(03)00032-6

Almakias, S., & Weiss, A. (2012). Ultimatum Game behavior in light of attachment theory. Journal of Economic Psychology, 33(3), 515–526. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joep.2011.12.012

Andreoni, J. (1990). Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving. The Economic Journal, 100(401), 464–477. https://doi.org/10.2307/2234133

Becker, A., Deckers, T., Dohmen, T., Falk, A., & Kosse, F. (2011). The Relationship Between Economic Preferences and Psychological Personality Measures. Annual Review of Economics, 4(1), 453–478. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-economics-080511-110922

Bolton, G. E. (1991). A Comparative Model of Bargaining: Theory and Evidence. The American Economic Review, 81(5), 1096–1136. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2006908

Bowles, S., & Polania-Reyes, S. (2012). Economic Incentives and Social Preferences: Substitutes or Complements? Journal of Economic Literature, 50(2), 368–425. https://doi.org/10.1257/jel.50.2.368

Camerer, C. F. (2011). Behavioral game theory: Experiments in strategic interaction. Princeton University Press.

Carpenter, J. (2010). social preferences BT - Behavioural and Experimental Economics (S. N. Durlauf & L. E. Blume, Eds.; pp. 247–252). Palgrave Macmillan UK. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230280786_31

Charness, G., Gneezy, U., & Kuhn, M. A. (2012). Experimental methods: Between-subject and within-subject design. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2011.08.009

Cullis, J., Jones, P., & Soliman, A. (2012). “Spite effects” in tax evasion experiments. Journal of Socio-Economics. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socec.2011.05.011

Dohmen, T., Falk, A., Huffman, D., & Sunde, U. (2010). Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability? American Economic Review, 100(3), 1238–1260. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.100.3.1238

Falk, A., Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). On the Nature of Fair Behavior. Economic Inquiry, 41(1), 20–26. https://doi.org/10.1093/ei/41.1.20

Falk, A., Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2005). Driving Forces behind Informal Sanctions. Econometrica, 73(6), 2017–2030. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3598757

Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2002). Why social preferences matter - The impact of non-selfish motives on competition, cooperation and incentives. Economic Journal, 112(478), C1–C33. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-0297.00027

Fehr, E., & Fischbacher, U. (2003). The nature of human altruism. Nature, 425(6960), 785–791. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02043

Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2000). Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(3), 159–181. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.14.3.159

Fehr, E., & Gächter, S. (2002). Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature, 415(6868), 137–140. https://doi.org/10.1038/415137a

Fehr, E., Gächter, S., & Kirchsteiger, G. (1997). Reciprocity as a Contract Enforcement Device: Experimental Evidence. Econometrica, 65(4), 833–860. https://doi.org/10.2307/2171941

Fehr, E., Glätzle-Rützler, D., & Sutter, M. (2013). The development of egalitarianism, altruism, spite and parochialism in childhood and adolescence. European Economic Review, 64, 369–383. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroecorev.2013.09.006

Fehr, E., Hoff, K., & Kshetramade, M. (2008). Spite and Development. American Economic Review, 98(2), 494–499. https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.98.2.494

Fehr, E., & Schmidt, K. M. (1999). A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114(3), 817–868. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2586885

Fehr, E., & Schmidt, K. M. (2006). Chapter 8 The Economics of Fairness, Reciprocity and Altruism – Experimental Evidence and New Theories. In S.-C. Kolm & J. M. B. T.-H. of the E. of G. Ythier Altruism and Reciprocity (Eds.), Foundations (Vol. 1, pp. 615–691). Elsevier. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/S1574-0714(06)01008-6

Gardner, A., & West, S. A. (2004). Spite and the scale of competition. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 17(6), 1195–1203. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1420-9101.2004.00775.x

Güth, W., Schmittberger, R., & Schwarze, B. (1982). An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 3(4), 367–388. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/0167-2681(82)90011-7

Hamilton, W. D. (1970). Selfish and Spiteful Behaviour in an Evolutionary Model. Nature, 228(5277), 1218–1220. https://doi.org/10.1038/2281218a0

Herrmann, B., Thöni, C., & Gächter, S. (2008). Antisocial Punishment Across Societies. Science, 319(5868), 1362 LP – 1367. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1153808

Jovanović, B. (2008). Psihologija inata [Psychology of Spite]. Polja, 454, 116–122.

Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J. L., & Thaler, R. H. (2011). Experimental tests of the endowment effect and the Coase theorem. In Advances in Behavioral Economics. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvcm4j8j.7

Kahneman, D., Knetsch, J. L., & Thaler, R. H. (2018). The endowment effect, Loss Aversion, and Status Quo Bias. In Experiments in Environmental Economics. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.5.1.193

Kimbrough, E. O., & Reiss, J. P. (2012). Measuring the Distribution of Spitefulness. PLOS ONE, 7(8), e41812. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0041812

Levine, D. K. (1998). Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiments. Review of Economic Dynamics, 1(3), 593–622. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1006/redy.1998.0023

Marcus, D. K., Zeigler-Hill, V., Mercer, S. H., & Norris, A. L. (2014). The psychology of spite and the measurement of spitefulness. Psychological Assessment. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036039

Pillutla, M. M., & Murnighan, J. K. (1996). Unfairness, anger, and spite: Emotional rejections of ultimatum offers. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 68(3), 208–224. https://doi.org/10.1006/obhd.1996.0100

Rotemberg, J. J. (2008). Minimally acceptable altruism and the ultimatum game. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2006.06.008

Sanfey, A. G., Rilling, J. K., Aronson, J. A., Nystrom, L. E., & Cohen, J. D. (2003). The Neural Basis of Economic Decision-Making in the Ultimatum Game. Science, 300(5626), 1755 LP – 1758. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1082976

Sylwester, K., Herrmann, B., & Bryson, J. J. (2013). Homo homini lupus? Explaining antisocial punishment. Journal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics. https://doi.org/10.1037/npe0000009

West, S. A., Griffin, A. S., & Gardner, A. (2007). Social semantics: altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 20(2), 415–432. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1420-9101.2006.01258.x

Williams, R. (2012). Using the margins command to estimate and interpret adjusted predictions and marginal effects. Stata Journal. https://doi.org/The Stata Journal

Wobker, I. (2015). The Price of Envy-An Experimental Investigation of Spiteful Behavior. Managerial and Decision Economics. https://doi.org/10.1002/mde.2672

Yamagishi, T., Horita, Y., Mifune, N., Hashimoto, H., Li, Y., Shinada, M., Miura, A., Inukai, K., Takagishi, H., & Simunovic, D. (2012). Rejection of unfair offers in the ultimatum game is no evidence of strong reciprocity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(50), 20364–20368. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1212126109

Zizzo, D. J., & Oswald, A. J. (2001). Are People Willing to Pay to Reduce Others’ Incomes? Annales d’Economie et de Statistique, 63/64, 39–65. https://doi.org/10.2307/20076295

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22190/TEME200819061M


  • There are currently no refbacks.

© University of Niš, Serbia
Creative Commons licence CC BY-NC-ND
Print ISSN: 0353-7919
Online ISSN: 1820-7804