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How does the effect of pre-play suggestions vary with group size? Experimental evidence from a threshold public-good game

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  • Feltovich, Nick
  • Grossman, Philip J.

Abstract

Numerous studies have examined factors influencing the likelihood of cooperative outcomes in nonzero-sum games, but there has been little study of the interaction between two of the most important: group size and pre-play cheap talk. We report results from an experiment in which groups of size between 2 and 15 play a one-shot multi-player threshold public-good game. In our random leader treatment, all group members select a suggestion (e.g., “Everyone should choose X”), with one randomly chosen to be broadcast to the group. In a choice only treatment, subjects choose suggestions but none is sent, and in a baseline treatment, there are no suggestions at all. We find a negative interaction between group size and this kind of communication: the beneficial effect of both suggestions overall and cooperative suggestions on cooperation, cooperative outcomes, and payoffs decreases sharply as the group size increases. We find a similar negative interaction in a follow-up treatment in which all group members’ suggestions are broadcast to the group. Our results suggest that care should be taken in generalising conclusions from small-group experiments to large groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Feltovich, Nick & Grossman, Philip J., 2015. "How does the effect of pre-play suggestions vary with group size? Experimental evidence from a threshold public-good game," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 79(C), pages 263-280.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:eecrev:v:79:y:2015:i:c:p:263-280
    DOI: 10.1016/j.euroecorev.2015.08.001
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    Cited by:

    1. Fehr, Dietmar, 2017. "Costly communication and learning from failure in organizational coordination," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 106-122.
    2. Philip J. Grossman & Catherine Eckel & Mana Komai & Wei Zhan, 2016. "It Pays to Be a Man: Rewards for Leaders in a Coordination Game," Monash Economics Working Papers 38-16, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    3. Federica Alberti & Edward J. Cartwright, 2016. "Full agreement and the provision of threshold public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(1), pages 205-233, January.
    4. Mana Komai & Philip J. Grossman & Evelyne Benie, 2017. "Leadership and the effective choice of information regime," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 82(1), pages 117-129, January.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pre-play communication; Suggestions; Group decision making; Equilibrium selection; Leadership;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior

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