Date: March 15, 16:00-17:00, room MF-G513
Speaker: Peter DeScioli, Stony Brook University
Title: Alliance formation in a side-taking experiment
Abstract: How do people choose sides in conflicts? People face difficult tradeoffs when deciding which side, if any, to support in disputes, especially when bound by prior loyalties and obligations. I present experiments that use a novel economic game, the side-taking game, in which players fight over resources and choose sides in others’ disputes. In the game, conflicts arise unpredictably between any two players in the group. Then, six other players choose sides and the disputant with more supporters wins the resource. Players choose sides by ranking their loyalties to everyone else, and they automatically support the disputant they currently rank higher when a conflict occurs. Across different treatments, I vary players’ information about others’ loyalties, communication abilities, and the costs of resolving ties. Overall, I find that participants spontaneously and quickly form alliances, even when alliances create a gridlock of costly ties. In contrast, I observe little evidence of bandwagon or egalitarian strategies. I discuss implications for theories about cooperation, friendship, and morality.