Social Influence and Collective Action: An Experiment Investigating the Effects of Visibility and Social Information Moderated by Personality
35 Pages Posted: 23 Jul 2011 Last revised: 26 Feb 2013
Date Written: November 25, 2012
This paper examines experimentally the effects of two forms of social influence — visibility and social information about the contributions of others — on collective action in a step-level public goods game. We find that visibility has an aggregate positive impact on individual contributions, but social information does not. However, both visibility and social information positively affect the overall likelihood of a collective good being funded, implying that social information induces strategic behaviour and more efficient use of resources. Individual difference variables relating to personality and personal values help to explain treatment effects. Social value orientation predicts differential responses to both treatments, while of the ‘Big Five’ personality traits, agreeableness and extraversion help to predict the impact of visibility.
Keywords: social information, social pressure, collective action, laboratory experiment
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