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Investigation of social preferences in inter-group and cross-cultural contexts

Priority areas of development: economics
2016
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Report of the Laboratory on "Investigation of social preferences in the inter-group and cross-cultural contexts" presents the results of the laboratory work in three areas of interdisciplinary experimental research: motivation of the participants of strategic interactions and methods of competition on the example of the game "3-players battleship", the influence of religious and cultural values on the behavior in bilateral interactions (in particular, in case of the followers of Judaism); and finally, the study of corruption in public procurement and cross-country comparisons between Russia and Spain.

Strategic communication of information is one of the main themes in the modern theory of games since the days of classical work by Crawford and Sobel (1982). However, some aspects of this kind of interaction are still poorly understood. These include, for example, the interaction of several (more than two) individuals, incentives to create difficulties opponent by transmitting information about it to a third party, in order to encourage this latter to harm your opponent;  finally, the role of strategic management of information flows. All these aspects are shown in the game "3-players battleship": we first formalize a game in extensive form with incomplete information, and then show some of the solutions (due to the sensitivity of this rather difficult game to specifications). Finally, we use these results to obtain estimates of the players’ utility functions - a task that economists too often tend to neglect, which potentially leads to considerable distortions of theoretical predictions. This last comparison is carried out for two cases: when each player is represented by one person, and when for a single player stands a small group.

An important guiding force of social interactions is religion. We have developed a methodology for complex interdisciplinary influence of religion on behavior, combining on the one hand, the identification of preferences during motivated economic experiments, and on the other, validated psychological techniques. Participants in the study in the experimental groups were subjects who have revealed in practice the seriousness of their religious beliefs (religious school students, on the example of Judaism in Israel and Russia), whose values and behavior is compared to the behavior of ordinary people (student peer-secular university). As a result, it has been shown that religious people can also be prone to misleading behaviour, be selfish, and strive for a better life for themselves at the expense of others. However, the most important mediator of these effects are cultural norms: believers in Israel are more pro-socially oriented, than believers in Russia.

Finally, we studies corrupt behavior of agents in the corruption game, simulating a public procurement tender. We found that the quality of services and the size of bribes offered by the players are affected by socio-demographic characteristics of participants, as well as the results of previous interactions. In particular, women were more honest than men, and people who were born in the Russian province are more honest than Muscovites by birth, but these and other factors are not significant for the behavior of bribe-takers. Punishment size has strong effects: if the person guilty in corruption may be deprived of all of his/her well-being, bribe offers are radically reduced, as is the number of corrupt bureaucrats, and quality of services is growing. The results were compared between the two countries (Russia and Spain). The average values did not differ across the countries, but Russian women were more honest than the Spanish ones, while Russian men, on the contrary, are more prone to bribery than their Spanish counterparts. These results are not only general theoretical, but also a potential practical interest from the point of view of identifying the factors affecting the level of corruption in the country.

Publications:


Gulevich O., Osin E. N., Isaenko N., Brainis L. Attitudes to homosexuals in Russia: content, structure, and predictors // Psychology. Journal of the Higher School of Economics. 2016. Vol. 13. No. 1. P. 79-110.