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

Listed author(s):
  • 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)

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.

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File URL: http://www3.ntu.edu.sg/hss2/egc/wp/2013/2013-03.pdf
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Paper provided by Nanyang Technological University, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Economic Growth Centre in its series Economic Growth Centre Working Paper Series with number 1303.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2013
Handle: RePEc:nan:wpaper:1303
Contact details of provider: Postal:
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Web page: http://egc.hss.ntu.edu.sg/

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  1. Schmidt, Carsten & Zultan, Ro´i, 2005. "The Uncontrolled Social Utility Hypothesis Revisited," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 05-29, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  2. Qiyan Ong & Yohanes Riyanto & Steven Sheffrin, 2012. "How does voice matter? Evidence from the ultimatum game," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(4), pages 604-621, December.
  3. Linda Babcock & George Loewenstein, 1997. "Explaining Bargaining Impasse: The Role of Self-Serving Biases," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 109-126, Winter.
  4. Cameron, Lisa A, 1999. "Raising the Stakes in the Ultimatum Game: Experimental Evidence from Indonesia," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(1), pages 47-59, January.
  5. Ben Greiner & Werner Güth & Ro'i Zultan, 2010. "Social Communication and Discrimination: A Video Experiment," Jena Economic Research Papers 2010-038, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  6. Roland Bénabou & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Self-Confidence and Personal Motivation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(3), pages 871-915.
  7. Joseph Farrell & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 103-118, Summer.
  8. George Loewenstein & Don A. Moore, 2004. "When Ignorance Is Bliss: Information Exchange and Inefficiency in Bargaining," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 37-58, 01.
  9. Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Rational irrationality: Some economics of self-management," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 633-655, May.
  10. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2011. "The strategy versus the direct-response method: a first survey of experimental comparisons," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(3), pages 375-398, September.
  11. Croson, Rachel & Boles, Terry & Murnighan, J. Keith, 2003. "Cheap talk in bargaining experiments: lying and threats in ultimatum games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 143-159, June.
  12. Grossman, Zachary, 2010. "Self-Signaling Versus Social-Signaling in Giving," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt7320x2cp, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  13. Hoffman, Elizabeth & McCabe, Kevin A & Smith, Vernon L, 1996. "On Expectations and the Monetary Stakes in Ultimatum Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 25(3), pages 289-301.
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