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The Self-Image Signaling Roles of Voice in Decision-Making

Author

Listed:
  • Qiyan ONG

    (Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 637332, Singapore)

  • Yohanes Eko RIYANTO

    (Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 637332, Singapore)

  • Walter E. THESEIRA

    (Division of Economics, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore 637332, Singapore)

  • Steven M. SHEFFRIN

    (Murphy Institute, Department of Economics at Tulane University, 108 Tilton Hall, New Orleans, LA 70115)

Abstract

The desire to voice opinions has driven democracy movements and fueled the growth of social media. However, it is unclear why people value voice, and whether exercising voice affects subsequent behavior. Models of identity and self-inference posit that voice has value as a self-image signal: by speaking up, we demonstrate to ourselves that we possess desirable qualities. We investigate whether words can substitute for more costly actions that also self-signal desirable qualities – such as the act of rejecting an unfair offer in the ultimatum game. Our experiment modifies the ultimatum game to allow responders to bid to voice their opinions to a third party with no influence over the outcome of the game. We find that 63% of responders are willing to pay an average of 34% of their endowments for the opportunity for voice, even when their messages are not communicated to the proposer and have no strategic value. Crucially, expressing voice to a third party results in responders being willing to accept offers that are 15% lower. We find contrasting results – responders demand higher offers – in a comparison treatment where voice is communicated to the proposer. Our results suggest encouraging the expression of voice may ease acceptance of unpopular decisions, but only when people perceive their self-image will not be harmed.

Suggested Citation

  • Qiyan ONG & Yohanes Eko RIYANTO & Walter E. THESEIRA & Steven M. SHEFFRIN, 2013. "The Self-Image Signaling Roles of Voice in Decision-Making," Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series 1303, Nanyang Technological University, School of Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre.
  • Handle: RePEc:nan:wpaper:1303
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    File URL: http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/hss2/egc/wp/2013/2013-03.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:mpg:wpaper:2014_07 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:eee:jeborg:v:143:y:2017:i:c:p:241-253 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    voice; self-image; identity; self-signal; ultimatum game;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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