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The Potential of Social Identity for Equilibrium Selection

Author

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  • Roy Chen
  • Yan Chen

Abstract

When does a common group identity improve efficiency in coordination games? To answer this question, we propose a group-contingent social preference model and derive conditions under which social identity changes equilibrium selection. We test our predictions in the minimum-effort game in the laboratory under parameter configurations which lead to an inefficient low-effort equilibrium for subjects with no group identity. For those with a salient group identity, consistent with our theory, we find that learning leads to ingroup coordination to the efficient high-effort equilibrium. Additionally, our theoretical framework reconciles findings from a number of coordination game experiments. (JEL C71, C91, D71)

Suggested Citation

  • Roy Chen & Yan Chen, 2011. "The Potential of Social Identity for Equilibrium Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(6), pages 2562-2589, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:6:p:2562-89
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2002. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 817-869.
    2. Crawford, Vincent P, 1995. "Adaptive Dynamics in Coordination Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(1), pages 103-143, January.
    3. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
    4. Basu, Kaushik, 2006. "Participatory Equity, Identity, and Productivity: Policy Implications for Promoting Development," Working Papers 06-06, Cornell University, Center for Analytic Economics.
    5. B. Curtis Eaton & Mukesh Eswaran & Robert J. Oxoby, 2011. "Us and `Them': the origin of identity, and its economic implications," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 44(3), pages 719-748, August.
    6. George A. Akerlof & Rachel E. Kranton, 2011. "Identity Economics: How Our Identities Shape Our Work, Wages, and Well-Being," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9108.
    7. Roberto A. Weber, 2006. "Managing Growth to Achieve Efficient Coordination in Large Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 114-126, March.
    8. Eckel, Catherine C. & Grossman, Philip J., 2005. "Managing diversity by creating team identity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 371-392, November.
    9. Cooper, David J. & Stockman, Carol Kraker, 2002. "Fairness and learning: an experimental examination," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 26-45, October.
    10. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
    11. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
    12. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "The Theory of Learning in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061945, January.
    13. McLeish, Kendra N. & Oxoby, Robert J., 2007. "Identity, Cooperation, and Punishment," IZA Discussion Papers 2572, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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