Status characteristics and the provision of public goods: Experimental evidence

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We present experimental evidence on the effects of status characteristics in problems involving the provision of public goods. According to Status Characteristics Theory (SCT), status differentials affect performance expectations, which in turn affect the power and prestige order in group tasks. Applied to problems of collective action, SCT suggests several intriguing hypotheses (cf. Simpson, Willer, and Ridgeway 2012). Most importantly, the theory proposes that high-status actors show a greater initiative in and also overall contribute more to the provision of public goods than low-status actors. We put this theoretical claim to a strict experimental test, in addition to other hypotheses and conjectures. In our experimental setup, the volunteer's timing dilemma is used as the group task. Three experimental conditions are implemented, which differ with respect to the way status groups are formed on basis of the type of status characteristic. Our results validate the central hypothesis cited above and also lend support to a conjecture regarding the beneficial effects of heterogeneity in status.




Tutic, A., & Grehl, S. (2018). Status characteristics and the provision of public goods: Experimental evidence. Sociological Science, 5, 1–20.

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