How to Choose Your Victim

89 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2016 Last revised: 24 Aug 2018

See all articles by Klaus Abbink

Klaus Abbink

Monash University

Gönül Doğan

University of Cologne

Date Written: August 14, 2018


We introduce the experimental mobbing game. Each player in a group has the option to nominate one of the other players or to nominate no one. If the same person is nominated by all other players, he loses his payoff and the mob gains. We conduct three sets of experiments to study the effects of monetary gains, fear of being mobbed, and different types of focality. In the repeated mobbing game, we find that subjects frequently coordinate on selecting a victim, even for modest gains. Higher gains make mobbing more likely. We find no evidence that fear of becoming the victim explains mobbing. Richer and poorer players are equally focal. Pity plays no role in mobbing decisions. Ingroup members – introduced by colours – are less likely to be victims, and both payoff difference and colour difference serve as strong coordination devices. Commonly employed social preference theories do not explain our findings.

Keywords: Groups, Coordination, Mobs, Anti-Social Behavior, Social Preferences, Experiment, Economics

JEL Classification: C92, D03, D70

Suggested Citation

Abbink, Klaus and Doğan, Gönül, How to Choose Your Victim (August 14, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Klaus Abbink

Monash University ( email )

23 Innovation Walk
Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800

Gönül Doğan (Contact Author)

University of Cologne ( email )

Cologne, 50923

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