Disapproval aversion or inflated inequity acceptance? The impact of expressing emotions in ultimatum bargaining

Josie I. Chen, Kenju Kamei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Past experimental research has shown that when rating systems are available, buyers are more generous in accepting unfair offers in ultimatum bargaining. However, it also suggests that, under these conditions, sellers behave more fairly to avoid receiving negative feedback. This paper experimentally investigates which effect is stronger with the use of a rating system: buyers’ inflated inequity acceptance or sellers’ disapproval aversion. We explore this question by varying the information condition on the buyers’ side. Our experiment shows that in a setup where the size of the pie is common knowledge for both buyers and sellers, when a rating system is present, the sellers exhibit disapproval aversion but the buyers do not display greater acceptance of inequity. By contrast, when only sellers are aware of the size of the pie, sellers behave aggressively to exploit buyers and their behavior does not change in the presence of a rating system; however, buyers display greater acceptance of inequity when a rating system is present. We discuss how these results can be explained by a theoretical model that includes sellers’ social disapproval aversion and buyers’ disappointment aversion in addition to the players’ inequality aversion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)836-857
Number of pages22
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Dec 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Disapproval aversion
  • Emotion
  • Experiment
  • Rating
  • Ultimatum game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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