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How Individual Preferences Get Aggregated in Groups - an Experimental Study

  • Attila Ambrus
  • Ben Greiner
  • Parag Pathak

This paper experimentally investigates how individual preferences, through unrestricted deliberation, get aggregated into a group decision in two contexts: reciprocating gifts, and choosing between lotteries. In both contexts we find that median group members have a significant impact on the group decision, but particular other members also have some influence. Non-median members closer to the median tend to have more influence than other members. By investigating the same individual’s influence in different groups, we find evidence for relative position in the group having a direct effect on influence. We do not find evidence that group choice exhibits a shift in a particular direction that is independent of member preferences and caused by the group decision context itself. We also find that group deliberation not only involves bargaining and compromise, but it also involves persuasion: preferences tend to shift towards the choice of the individual’s previous group, especially for those with extreme individual preferences.

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Paper provided by Duke University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 13-21.

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Length: 37
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:duk:dukeec:13-21
Contact details of provider: Postal: Department of Economics Duke University 213 Social Sciences Building Box 90097 Durham, NC 27708-0097
Phone: (919) 660-1800
Fax: (919) 684-8974
Web page: http://econ.duke.edu/

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  1. Gary Charness & Luca Rigotti & Aldo Rustichini, 2007. "Individual Behavior and Group Membership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(4), pages 1340-1352, September.
  2. Martin Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2007. "Individual versus group behavior and the role of the decision making procedure in gift-exchange experiments," Empirica, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 63-88, March.
  3. Gary Charness, 2004. "Attribution and Reciprocity in an Experimental Labor Market," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 22(3), pages 665-688, July.
  4. Gary Charness & Matthias Sutter, 2012. "Groups Make Better Self-Interested Decisions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 26(3), pages 157-76, Summer.
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  7. Matthias Sutter, 2009. "Individual Behavior and Group Membership: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2247-57, December.
  8. Gary Bornstein & Ilan Yaniv, 1998. "Individual and Group Behavior in the Ultimatum Game: Are Groups More “Rational†Players?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 101-108, June.
  9. David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2005. "Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(3), pages 477-509, June.
  10. Charness, Gary & Jackson, Matthew O., 2009. "The role of responsibility in strategic risk-taking," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 69(3), pages 241-247, March.
  11. Yan Chen & Sherry Xin Li, 2009. "Group Identity and Social Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 431-57, March.
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  13. Brown, Martin & Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2003. "Relational Contracts and the Nature of Market Interactions," IZA Discussion Papers 897, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  16. Ronald J. Baker II & Susan K. Laury & Arlington W. Williams, 2008. "Comparing Small-Group and Individual Behavior in Lottery-Choice Experiments," Caepr Working Papers 2007-018_Updated, Center for Applied Economics and Policy Research, Economics Department, Indiana University Bloomington.
  17. Fehr, Ernst & Kirchsteiger, George & Riedl, Arno, 1993. "Does Fairness Prevent Market Clearing? An Experimental Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 437-59, May.
  18. Brandts, Jordi & Schram, Arthur, 2001. "Cooperation and noise in public goods experiments: applying the contribution function approach," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 79(2), pages 399-427, February.
  19. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  20. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  21. Masclet, David & Colombier, Nathalie & Denant-Boemont, Laurent & Lohéac, Youenn, 2009. "Group and individual risk preferences: A lottery-choice experiment with self-employed and salaried workers," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 470-484, June.
  22. Gary Charness & Ramon Cobo-Reyes & Natalia Jimenez & Juan A. Lacomba & Francisco Lagos, 2012. "The Hidden Advantage of Delegation: Pareto Improvements in a Gift Exchange Game," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(5), pages 2358-79, August.
  23. Jacob K. Goeree & Leeat Yariv, 2011. "An Experimental Study of Collective Deliberation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 893-921, 05.
  24. Robert, Christopher & Carnevale, Peter J., 1997. "Group Choice in Ultimatum Bargaining," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 256-279, November.
  25. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2004. "Do Labour Market Conditions Affect Gift Exchange? Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 684-708, 07.
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