Individual Behavior and Group Membership
Abstract: People who are members of a group and identify with it behave differently from people who perceive themselves as isolated individuals. This difference depends on two main factors. First, preferences over outcomes change with the degree of identification with the group. Second, this identification depends on the saliency of the group structure. This paper tests these hypotheses and shows that group membership affects preferences over outcomes, and saliency of the group affects the perception of the environment. In two strategic environments, Battle of the Sexes and Prisoner's Dilemma, we create groups by allocating subjects to be Row or Column players. We manipulate the saliency of group membership by letting a player's own group watch as a passive audience as decisions are made, and by making part of the payoff common for members of the group. There is a strong and significant effect of group membership: It increases the aggressive stance of the hosts (people who have their group members in the audience), and reduces the one of the guests. The effect on outcomes depends on the game: In the Battle of the Sexes, the aggressiveness of hosts leads to more coordination; in the Prisoner's Dilemma, it leads to less cooperation. In the first case efficiency is increased, while in the second it is diminished. We also test for differences between in-group and out-group behavior in Prisoner's Dilemma games. In contrast to the minimal-group paradigm of the social-psychology literature, minimal groups do not affect behavior in our strategic environment. We see strong differences between in-group and out-group behavior only when we increase the saliency of group membership by having a degree of common payoffs.
Summary (1 min read)
INSTRUCTIONS (room R)
- They have been randomly divided into two rooms, each with 10 people.
- These are actual dollars that will be paid in cash.
- All people in the room (except for the person from the other room) will be able to watch the decider who belongs to their room make his or her choice (however, no verbal comments are permitted).
- Your green numbers indicate the rounds during which it will be your turn to make a decision in the room where you are now (room R).
- Thank you for participating in this experiment.
- There are 20 people participating in this session.
- There will be 10 rounds in this session, and each person will make a decision in each round.
- In some periods, you will be paired with someone in your color group, while in other periods you will be paired with someone in the other color group.
- Each person will be making a simultaneous choice between A and B in the following decision matrix:.
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"Individual Behavior and Group Membe..." refers background in this paper
...1 Some notable exceptions include Akerlof and Kranton (2000), Alesina et alii (2003), and Easterly and Levine (1997)....
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Q1. What are the contributions in this paper?
In this paper, if both people choose A, the Row decider receives 5 and the Column deciders receives 5.