The Impact of Social Ties on Group Interactions: Evidence from Minimal Groups and Randomly Assigned Real Groups

American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 2012, 4(1): 101–115

Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 12/27

15 Pages Posted: 2 May 2012

See all articles by Lorenz Goette

Lorenz Goette

University of Lausanne; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

David Huffman

IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Swarthmore College

Stephan Meier

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Columbia Business School - Management

Date Written: May 2, 2012

Abstract

Economists are increasingly interested in how group membership affects individual behavior. The standard method assigns individuals to “minimal” groups, i.e. arbitrary labels, in a lab. But real groups often involve social interactions leading to social ties between group members. Our experiments compare randomly assigned minimal groups to randomly assigned groups involving real social interactions. While adding social ties leads to qualitatively similar, although stronger, in-group favoritism in cooperation, altruistic norm enforcement patterns are qualitatively different between treatments. Our findings contribute to the micro-foundation of theories of group preferences, and caution against generalizations from “minimal” groups to groups with social context.

JEL Classification: C92, D64, D71, Z13

Suggested Citation

Goette, Lorenz F. and Huffman, David and Meier, Stephan, The Impact of Social Ties on Group Interactions: Evidence from Minimal Groups and Randomly Assigned Real Groups (May 2, 2012). American Economic Journal: Microeconomics 2012, 4(1): 101–115; Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 12/27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2050091

Lorenz F. Goette

University of Lausanne ( email )

Department of Economics
Batiment Internef
Lausanne, 1015
Switzerland
(021) 692'3496 (Phone)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org

David Huffman

IZA Institute of Labor Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Swarthmore College

500 College Ave
Swarthmore, PA 19081
United States

Stephan Meier (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston ( email )

600 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA 02210
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

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