Economics Experimental Lab
Date: Oct 14, 2020, 2:00 – 3:30 pm
Title: The Tragedy of Misbehavior (with Marie Claire Villeval)
We study misbehavior as a social dilemma using a repeated die-in-a-cup experiment in a group setting. The pursuit of individual interest motivates subjects to claim higher numbers. But when the total reported number of a group reaches a certain threshold, this generates an endogenous risk of collective failure. We vary the group size and collectivism vs. individualism priming in a 2×2 treatment. We observe a high level of dishonesty in all treatments which leads to the tragedy of misbehavior that 84.2% of participants’ payoff is less than the reservation payoff expected from honest behavior and subjects cannot coordinate to escape this tragedy with experience growing. Subjects in a large group claim a significantly higher number than subjects in a small group. Collectivism priming leads to lower claim in the first few periods than individualism priming but finally converges to a high level of dishonesty in the last few periods. The effect difference between collectivism vs. individualism priming is larger in a small group than in a large group.
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