Jane L. Wong

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Miller, Charles E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Coalition (Social sciences)


This study examined the effects of three factors on behavior in a multivalued coalition game in which players' resources were pitted against their bargaining strength. The three factors were: (a) whether the players had "earned" their resources or had them arbitrarily assigned; (b) whether instructions stressed both individualistic (profit-maximization) and normative (fairness, reasonableness) orientations or only an individualistic orientation; (c) the amount of experience players had with playing the game. The design of the study was a 2 x 2 x (4) factorial in which the factor of experience involved repeated measures (trials of the game). The study also tested the minimum resource, bargaining, and equal excess theories of coalition formation against each other under the different experimental conditions. Results showed that earned resources and instructions stressing normative and individualistic considerations led to more proposals and payoff divisions favoring the player with larger resources than did unearned resources and instructions stressing only individualistic considerations. However, with trials of the game, players' offers moved away from equity, in the direction of equality and bargaining strength. With regard to coalition formation, resources interacted with trials of play so that in the earned resources conditions, the coalition predicted by all three theories did not differ in frequency over trials, whereas in the unearned resources conditions, that coalition decreased in frequency over trials. Generally, the predictions of the three coalition theories were too extreme with regard to coalition payoffs. That is, actual payoff divisions were nearer equality than predicted by the theories. However, while the theoretical predictions were too extreme, the payoff divisions in all but the .unearned-individualistic condition were in the direction of equity. In general, players' resources exerted a stronger effect on coalition behavior than did their opposing bargaining strength. It was noted that the effects of types of resources and instructions were somewhat weaker than initially anticipated. The possibilities that the resource manipulation was not strong enough, or that when pitted against bargaining strength resource effects were reduced, were discussed. It was also suggested that the experimental effects were not as strong as hypothesized because female subjects tend to behave accommodatively in groups.


Bibliography: pages 55-60.


viii, 79 pages




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