Facing Your Opponents: Social Identification and Information Feedback in Contests
Journal of Conflict Resolution, vol.
We experimentally investigate the effect of social identification and information feedback on individual behavior in contests. In all treatments we find significant over-expenditure of effort relative to the standard theoretical predictions. Identifying subjects through photo display decreases wasteful effort. Providing information feedback about others’ effort does not affect the aggregate effort, but it decreases the heterogeneity of effort and significantly affects the dynamics of individual behavior. We develop a behavioral model which incorporates a non-monetary utility of winning and relative payoff maximization. The model explains significant over-expenditure of effort. It also suggests that decrease in ‘social distance’ between group members through photo display promotes pro-social behavior and decreases over-expenditure of effort, while improved information feedback decreases the heterogeneity of effort.