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Pivotality and responsibility attribution in sequential voting

  • Björn Bartling
  • Urs Fischbacher
  • Simeon Schudy

This paper analyzes responsibility attributions for outcomes of collective decision making processes. In particular, we ask if decision makers are blamed for being pivotal if they implement an unpopular outcome in a sequential voting process. We conduct an experimental voting game in which decision makers vote about the allocation of money between themselves and recipients without voting rights. We measure responsibility attributions for voting decisions by eliciting the monetary punishment that recipients assign to individual decision makers. We find that pivotal decision makers are punished significantly more for an unpopular voting outcome than non‐pivotal decision makers. Our data also suggest that some voters avoid being pivotal by voting strategically in order to delegate the pivotal vote to subsequent decision makers.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics - University of Zurich in its series ECON - Working Papers with number 138.

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Date of creation: Jan 2014
Date of revision: Mar 2015
Handle: RePEc:zur:econwp:138
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  1. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  2. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2006. "A theory of reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 293-315, February.
  3. Fehr, Ernst & Schmidt, Klaus M., 1999. "A theory of fairness, competition, and cooperation," Munich Reprints in Economics 20650, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Georg Kirchsteiger & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/5899, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  5. John R. Hamman & George Loewenstein & Roberto A. Weber, 2010. "Self-Interest through Delegation: An Additional Rationale for the Principal-Agent Relationship," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1826-46, September.
  6. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2004. "Voting when money and morals conflict: an experimental test of expressive voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1645-1664, July.
  7. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2011. "The strategy versus the direct-response method: a first survey of experimental comparisons," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 14(3), pages 375-398, September.
  8. Gilat Levy, 2005. "Decision making in committees: transparency, reputation and voting rules," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 543, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  9. Björn Bartling & Urs Fischbacher, 2008. "Shifting the Blame: On Delegation and Responsibility," TWI Research Paper Series 32, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.
  10. David K. Levine, 1998. "Modeling Altruism and Spitefulness in Experiment," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(3), pages 593-622, July.
  11. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
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