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The Impact of Social Ties on Group Interactions: Evidence from Minimal Groups and Randomly Assigned Real Groups

Author

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  • Lorenz Goette
  • David Huffman
  • Stephan Meier

Abstract

Economists are increasingly interested in how group membership affects individual behavior. The standard method assigns individuals to "minimal" groups, i.e. arbitrary labels, in a lab. But real group often involve social interactions leading to social ties between group members. Our experiments compare randomly assigned minimal groups to randomly assigned groups involving real social interactions. While adding social ties leads to qualitatively similar, although stronger, in-group favoritism in cooperation, altruistic norm enforcement patterns are qualitatively different between treatments. Our findings contribute to the micro-foundation of theories of group preferences, and caution against generalizations from "minimal" groups to groups with social context. (JEL C92, D64, D71, Z13)

Suggested Citation

  • Lorenz Goette & David Huffman & Stephan Meier, 2012. "The Impact of Social Ties on Group Interactions: Evidence from Minimal Groups and Randomly Assigned Real Groups," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 101-115, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:4:y:2012:i:1:p:101-15
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.4.1.101
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Chaim Fershtman & Uri Gneezy, 2001. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: An Experimental Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(1), pages 351-377.
    2. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2009. "Directed Altruism and Enforced Reciprocity in Social Networks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(4), pages 1815-1851.
    3. Matthias Sutter, 2009. "Individual Behavior and Group Membership: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2247-2257, December.
    4. Stephen Leider & Markus M. Möbius & Tanya Rosenblat & Quoc-Anh Do, 2010. "What Do We Expect from Our Friends?," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(1), pages 120-138, March.
    5. Lorenz Goette & David Huffman & Stephan Meier, 2006. "The Impact of Group Membership on Cooperation and Norm Enforcement: Evidence Using Random Assignment to Real Social Groups," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 212-216, May.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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