Decision making under stress: The “hiding behind a small cake” effect

Published: 30 May 2022| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/49xwrkrw7k.1
Érika Nogas,


The file contains the dataset and statistical analysis used in the article "Decision making under stress: the effect of hiding behind a small cake" by Érika Mirian Nogas, Angela Cristiane Santos Póvoa and Wesley Pech. The dataset contains the results of a lab experiment that observed how stress affects proposals in a modified version of the Ultimatum Game from 85 brazilian participants students. This modified version added incomplete information about the size of the endowment, which allowed for the possibility of deceptive behavior in the form of the “hide behind a small cake” effect. The presence of stress was stimulated using the adapted Trier Social Stress Test for Groups (TSST-G) protocol with salivary cortisol measurement before and after stress stimulus. Most of the literature on the effects of stress on behavior has indicated that stressed individuals usually search for a reward that benefits them, and stress becomes an excuse to behave deceitfully. When we conducted this research in Brazil, we expected to find similar results. However, we found distinct results that were very robust: proposers in the “stress” treatment made significantly larger offers in this modified version of the ultimatum than subjects in the control treatment. We observed that proposers who made larger offers also tended to be the ones who believed that the responder would correctly guess the actual endowment. Their fear of rejection was the likely driver of this increase in offers, instead of an increase in other-regarding preferences. The results suggest that stress increased the subject’s risk awareness, since the presence of stress stimuli under asymmetric information changed the strategic capability of the participants, and the pattern of responses were modified in a way that was consistent with this hypothesis. The control group (without stress stimulus), showed more accuracy in understanding the potential use of the informational advantage given to them in the game. Thus, they utilized the “hide behind the small cake” effect more frequently.



Pontificia Universidade Catolica do Parana, Tennessee Technological University


Game Theory, Decision Making, Behavioral Economics