Voting on a sharing norm in a dictator game
A large body of experimental research has documented that fairness and cooperation in experimental games are often enhanced when subjects can (and do) make non-binding pre-play agreements. Many studies have demonstrated this phenomenon for verbal agreements reached via open discussion. In contrast, little evidence exists concerning the effects of agreements reached using formal procedures that do not allow for discussion. This paper begins to fill this gap by investigating the effectiveness of an agreement reached by majority voting. Specifically, I investigate how voting on a sharing norm affects subsequent behavior in a dictator game. The voting procedure takes place behind a 'veil of ignorance', and the result of the vote is referred to as a non-binding agreement. I find that this procedure does not induce higher offers than are observed under a no-vote baseline. In fact, dictators were significantly more likely to offer nothing under the voting treatment. This evidence suggests that formal decision procedures may be less effective than open deliberation in creating effective non-binding agreements.
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