Exploring Selfish versus Altruistic Behaviors in the Ultimatum Game with an Agent-Based Model

Andrea Scalco*, Andrea Ceschi, Riccardo Sartori, Enrico Rubaltelli

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

7 Citations (Scopus)


In the present study we developed a simulation where agents play repeatedly the ultimatum game with the aim of exploring their earnings for several thresholds of willingness to accept proposals. At the same time, the scope is also to provide a simple and easily understandable simulation of the ultimatum game. Particularly, the simulation generates two kinds of agents, whose proposals are generated accordingly to their selfish or selfless behavior; subsequently, agents compete in order to increase their wealth playing the ultimatum game with a random-stranger matching. The trend emerged by simulation charts shows how, even when altruistic agents bid higher proposals than those following selfish behaviors, the average mean cash earned is higher for the former agents than the latter. A second fact is that, looking at the system as a whole, altruistic punishment leads to a reduction of the resources exploited by the agents. Finally, we introduced the psychological construct of trait emotional intelligence, briefly discussing the value of its implementation into computational simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTrends in Practical Applications of Agents, Multi-Agent Systems and Sustainability
Subtitle of host publicationThe PAAMS Collection
EditorsJavier Bajo, Josefa Z. Hernandez, Philippe Mathieu, Andrew Campbell, Antonio Fernández-Caballero, María N. Moreno, Vicente Julián, Amparo Alonso-Betanzos, María Dolores Jiménez-López, Vicente Botti
Place of PublicationCham
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9783319196299
ISBN (Print)9783319196282
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event13th International Conference on Practical Applications of Agents, Multi-Agent Systems, and Sustainability (PAAMS) - Salamanca, Spain
Duration: 3 Jun 20155 Jun 2015

Publication series

NameAdvances in Intelligent Systems and Computing
ISSN (Print)2194-5357
ISSN (Electronic)2194-5365


Conference13th International Conference on Practical Applications of Agents, Multi-Agent Systems, and Sustainability (PAAMS)


  • Ultimatum game
  • Agent-based model
  • Altruistic behavior
  • Social simulations
  • Emotional intelligence

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