Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 1 > Issue 4

Self-Interest, Inequality, and Entitlement in Majoritarian Decision-Making

Daniel Diermeier, Department of Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences, Kellogg School of Management, and Northwestern Institute on Complex Systems (NICO), Northwestern University, d-diermeier@kellogg.northwestern.edu Sean Gailmard, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University, gailmard@northwestern.edu
Suggested Citation
Daniel Diermeier and Sean Gailmard (2006), "Self-Interest, Inequality, and Entitlement in Majoritarian Decision-Making", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 1: No. 4, pp 327-350. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00000015

Published: 04 Oct 2006
© 2006 D. Diermeier and S. Gailmard
Political psychology,  Democracy

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In this article:
Procedures, Design, and Hypotheses
Accounting for the Findings: The Importance of Entitlements
Entitlements in Bilateral Bargaining


We experimentally test competing theories of three-player majoritarian bargaining models with fixed, known disagreement values. Subjects are randomly assigned to three roles: a proposer and two types of voters. Each role is randomly assigned a disagreement value, i.e. a given amount of money he/she will receive if the proposal is rejected. These values are known to all players before any decision is made. Proposers then make a take-it-or-leave-it offer on how to split a fixed, known amount of money among the players. If a majority of players accepts the proposal, the players' payoffs are determined by the proposal; if the proposal is rejected, each player receives his or her reservation value. We assess the ability of three behavioral hypotheses – self-interest, egalitarianism, and inequality-aversion – to account for our results. Our primary design variable is the proposer's reservation value, which allows us to obtain different implications from each hypothesis. We find that each hypothesis is inconsistent with our data in important respects. However, subjects strongly respond to changes in reservation values as if they were interpreted as a basic form of entitlement.