The effects of social ties on coordination: conceptual foundations for an empirical analysis

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This paper investigates the influence that social ties can have on behavior. After defining the concept of social ties that we consider, we introduce an original model of social ties. The impact of such ties on social preferences is studied in a coordination game with outside option. We provide a detailed game theoretical analysis of this game while considering various types of players, i.e., self-interest maximizing, inequity averse, and fair agents. In addition to these approaches that require strategic reasoning in order to reach some equilibrium, we also present an alternative hypothesis that relies on the concept of team reasoning. After having discussed the differences between the latter and our model of social ties, we show how an experiment can be designed so as to discriminate among the models presented in the paper.

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  1. 1.

    With the term “meaningful” we mean that during past interactions, the two individuals had the occasion to know each other by exchanging ideas, opinions, sharing positive emotions (e.g., they mutually enjoyed playing tennis together), etc.

  2. 2.

    A game is symmetric when all players can switch roles without changing their strategies and the associ-ated payoff.

  3. 3.

    The social welfare equilibrium introduced by Charness and Rabin (2002, p. 852) corresponds to a Nash equilibrium for some given values of δ and λ.

  4. 4.

    A more detailed general comparison of Sugden and Bacharach’s theories of team reasoning can be found in (Gold 2012).

  5. 5.

    Note that we do not refer to the usual Bayesian game as defined by Harsanyi here. It is indeed shown in (Hakli et al. 2010) that a Bayesian game generated from Bacharach’s unreliable team interaction structure does not yield the same action recommendation.

  6. 6.

    Experimental results in the Prisoner’s dilemma have shown that the cooperation rate varies between 30 and 40 % (see, e.g., Shafir and Tversky 1992).

  7. 7.

    The game presented here is overly simplistic as a means to illustrate the above point, which could of course also be found in more classical types of social interactions.


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Correspondence to Frédéric Moisan.

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Funding through the ANR-2010 JCJC 1803 01 is gratefully acknowledged.

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Attanasi, G., Hopfensitz, A., Lorini, E. et al. The effects of social ties on coordination: conceptual foundations for an empirical analysis. Phenom Cogn Sci 13, 47–73 (2014).

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  • Social ties
  • Coordination
  • Game theory
  • Forward induction
  • Social preferences
  • Team reasoning