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Micromotives, Microstructure, and Macrobehavior: The Case of Voluntary Cooperation

Simon Gächter & Christian Thoeni

abstract How micromotives, the microstructural features of interactions, and macrobehavior are related is a fundamental question in all social sciences. In this article we argue that laboratory experiments are a useful tool to study this question, because the experimenter can measure motivations, manipulate microstructures, and sometimes even exploit variation in the macrosocial environment. We illustrate the experimental approach with the help of four examples from the context of voluntary cooperation. The examples (from previous and new experiments) illustrate the link between individual pro-social motives and wage formation in labor markets, the inevitability of the ‘‘Tragedy of the Commons,’’ and two potential ways to avoid the tragedy: sorting and punishment
   
type journal paper
   
keywords gift exchange, laboratory experiments, macrobehavior, macrosocial background, micromotives, microstructure, punishment, reciprocity, sorting, voluntary cooperation
   
language English
kind of paper journal article
date of appearance 10-2-2011
journal Journal of Mathematical Sociology
publisher Taylor & Francis (London UK)
ISSN 0022-250X
ISSN (online) 1545-5874
DOI 10.1080/0022250X.2010.532260
volume of journal 35
number of issue 1-3
page(s) 26-65
review double-blind review
   
citation Gächter, S., & Thoeni, C. (2011). Micromotives, Microstructure, and Macrobehavior: The Case of Voluntary Cooperation. Journal of Mathematical Sociology, 35(1-3), 26-65, DOI:10.1080/0022250X.2010.532260.