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Draft Paper: Applying Social Influence to Collective Action: Heterogeneous Personality Effects

Sep 2011

Margetts, H. John, P. Reissfelder, S. and Hale, S. "Applying Social Influence to Collective Action: Heterogeneous Personality Effects" (December 2011).

Political scientists and economists commonly test for different kinds of social influence on collective action, particularly social pressure (visibility) and social information about the contributions of others (leading to conditional cooperation) but rarely in the same study design. This paper assesses the relative effect of these two kinds of social influence suggesting that their impact is best understood through hypothesizing for heterogeneous treatment effects based on personality. We report a step - level public goods game where participants were allocated tokens to contribute to collective action scenarios subject to a provision point. We find that visibility has an impact on individual contributions, but social information does not. However, both social visibility and social information positively affect the overall likelihood of a good being funded. We show that personality can help to explain these differences in the impact of treatments. We identify social value orientation as the personality characteristic most useful in explaining heterogeneity of the treatments rather than the ‘Big 5’ personality traits.

This is a draft paper on which we welcome feedback. The current version may be found at SSRN.


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