Emotion at stake—the role of stake size and emotions in a power-to-take game experiment in China with a comparison to Europe

Ronald Bosman, Heike Hennig-Schmidt*, Frans Van Winden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper experimentally investigates how monetary incentives and emotions influence behavior in a two-player power-to-take game (PTTG). In this game, one player can claim any part of the other's endowment (take rate), and the second player can respond by destroying any part of his or her own endowment. The experiment is run in China. We further compare our findings with the behavior of two European subject pools. Our results give new insights regarding emotion regulation. Even though stake size does not appear to matter for take rates and destruction rates, it does matter for the reaction function of the responder regarding the take rate. When stakes are high, there is less destruction for low and intermediate take rates, and more destruction for high take rates, compared to relatively low stakes. Under low incentives, ‘hot’ anger-type emotions are important for destruction, while ‘cool’ contempt becomes prominent under high monetary incentives. These results suggest emotion regulation in the high-stake condition. Moreover, emotions are found to fully mediate the impact of the take rate on destruction when stakes are low, whereas they only partially do so if stakes are high. Comparing the low-stakes data for China with existing European data, we find similarities in behavior, emotions and emotion intensities, as well as the full mediation of the take rate by emotions. We find some differences related to the type of emotions that are important for destruction. Whereas anger and joy are important in both, in addition, irritation and fear play a role in China, while this holds for contempt in the EU.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Cross-cultural experiment
  • Emotion regulation
  • Emotions
  • Expectations
  • High and low stakes
  • Incentives


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