How Does Voice Matter? Evidence from the Ultimatum Game
Prior research in economics and psychology has shown that process can matter in determining outcomes in many social situations. In particular, the opportunity to express ones opinion-voice-has been found to be highly influential. However, little is known about the channels through which voice may operate. In this paper, we develop a simple economic model of voice to explore these channels. We show that individuals value voice for: 1) its effect on outcomes, 2) its inherent value, or 3) its role in signaling one's social standing. Through the introduction of a hypothetical round in the standard ultimatum game, we were able to test the channels of voice directly by observing recipients' responses to offers which are lower than what they asked for. Our experimental results suggest that voice works primarily through its inherent value which appears to exceed its contribution to the perception of procedural fairness. Further, unlike voice which softens the impact of an unfair outcome, the possibility for voice may have dichotomous effects.
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