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Choice Shifts in Groups: A Decision-Theoretic Basis


  • Kfir Eliaz
  • Debraj Ray
  • Ronny Razin


The phenomenon of choice shifts in group decision-making has received attention in the social psychology literature. Faced with a risky group decision, individuals appear to support more extreme choices relative to those they would make on their own. This paper demonstrates that from a decision-theoretic perspective, choice shifts are intimately connected to failures of expected utility theory. In the model studied here, the Allais paradox is equivalent to a well-studied configuration of choice shifts. Thus, our results marry two well-known behavioral regularities, one in individual decision theory and another in the social psychology of groups. (JEL D71, D81)

Suggested Citation

  • Kfir Eliaz & Debraj Ray & Ronny Razin, 2006. "Choice Shifts in Groups: A Decision-Theoretic Basis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1321-1332, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:4:p:1321-1332 Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.4.1321

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephan Jagau & Theo (T.J.S.) Offerman, 2017. "Defaults, Normative Anchors and the Occurrence of Risky and Cautious Shifts," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 17-083/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    2. Elyès Jouini & Clotilde Napp & Diego Nocetti, 2013. "Collective risk aversion," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 40(2), pages 411-437, February.
    3. Carlsson, Fredrik & Martinsson, Peter & Qin, Ping & Sutter, Matthias, 2009. "Household decision making and the influence of spouses’ income, education, and communist party membership: A field experiment in rural China," Working Papers in Economics 356, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. Yang, Xiaojun & Carlsson, Fredrik, 2016. "Influence and choice shifts in households: An experimental investigation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 54-66.
    5. Sobel, Joel, 2014. "On the relationship between individual and group decisions," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 9(1), January.
    6. Carlsson, Fredrik & He, Haoran & Martinsson, Peter & Qin, Ping & Sutter, Matthias, 2012. "Household decision making in rural China: Using experiments to estimate the influences of spouses," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 525-536.
    7. Carlsson, Fredrik & Yang, Xiaojun, 2013. "Intertemporal Choice Shifts in Households: Do they occur and are they good?," Working Papers in Economics 569, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    8. Wolfgang Luhan & Martin Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2009. "Group polarization in the team dictator game reconsidered," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 12(1), pages 26-41, March.
    9. repec:eee:jetheo:v:174:y:2018:i:c:p:273-287 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Fredrik Carlsson & Peter Martinsson & Ping Qin & Matthias Sutter, 2013. "The influence of spouses on household decision making under risk: an experiment in rural China," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 16(3), pages 383-401, September.
    11. Martin Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2007. "Individual versus group behavior and the role of the decision making procedure in gift-exchange experiments," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 63-88, March.
    12. Nicolas Roux & Joel Sobel, 2015. "Group Polarization in a Model of Information Aggregation," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(4), pages 202-232, November.
    13. Demont, Matty & Rutsaert, Pieter & Ndour, Maimouna & Verbeke, Wim & Seck, Papa Abdoulaye & Tollens, Eric, 2012. "Experimental auctions, collective induction and choice shift: Willingness-to-pay for rice quality in Senegal," 2012 Conference, August 18-24, 2012, Foz do Iguacu, Brazil 126861, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    14. Daniela Di Cagno & Emanuela Sciubba & Marco Spallone, 2012. "Choosing a gambling partner: testing a model of mutual insurance in the lab," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 72(4), pages 537-571, April.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty


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