Rick Wilson

Rick Wilson
Rice University · Department of Political Science

About

102
Publications
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4,695
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Introduction
Additional affiliations
July 1983 - present
Rice University
Position
  • Professor (Full)

Publications

Publications (102)
Book
Full-text available
Political trust – of citizens in government, parliament or political parties – has been centre stage in political science for more than half a century, reflecting ongoing concerns about the legitimacy of representative democracy. This Handbook offers the first truly global perspective on political trust and integrates the conceptual, theoretical, m...
Article
Full-text available
When groups compete for resources, some groups will be more successful than others, forcing out less successful groups. Group-level selection is the most extreme form of group competition, where the weaker group ceases to exist, becoming extinct. We implement group-level selection in a controlled laboratory experiment in order to study its impact o...
Chapter
In this chapter, I detail a canonical type of experiment in the social sciences. A key question for the social sciences is how groups make collective decisions. Often, a group has to make a single choice, and all individuals are bound to that choice. It turns out that there is no mechanism that guarantees a consistent, fair collective choice. The s...
Article
The more prepared people are, the less harm they will suffer when disaster strikes. Yet anecdotal and empirical evidence shows that people overestimate their preparedness and are underprepared. While a robust literature has matured around hazards, risk, and vulnerability, and disaster policy, politics, and management, the literature about individua...
Article
Full-text available
[Author Affiliation]Rick K Wilson, * Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, MS 24, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005, USA; E-mail: rkw@rice.edu .Catherine C Eckel, [dagger] Sara & John Lindsey Professor, Department of Economics, Texas AM E-mail: ceckel@econmail.tamu.edu .[Acknowledgment]Thanks to Haley H...
Article
Using a field experiment with high school students, we evaluate the development of risk preferences. Examining the impact of school characteristics on preference development reveals both peer and quality effects. For the peer effect, individuals in schools with a higher percentage of students on free or reduced lunches (hence a higher proportion of...
Article
We present a laboratory experiment to test the strength of two motives for engaging in nepotism: beliefs and favoritism. Using real-world groups, nepotism is introduced by allowing partner selection in the trust game. The design varies: (1) the productivity of group members and (2) the ability to select partners. We find beliefs to be the predomina...
Article
Elinor (Lin) Ostrom, Distinguished Professor at Indiana University, died on 12 June 2012 at the age of 78. Her husband and intellectual partner, Vincent Ostrom, died on 29 June 2012 at the age of 92. Lin was a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. In 2009, L...
Article
Using a field experiment eliciting the risk preferences of 490 9th and 11th grade students from a variety of school environments, we examine various factors influencing the development of these risk preferences. In addition to factors previously considered by economists (gender, ethnicity, height, and parental education) we also evaluate cognitive...
Article
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This research examined the question of whether the psychology of social identity can motivate cooperation in the context of a global collective. Our data came from a multinational study of choice behavior in a multilevel public-goods dilemma conducted among samples drawn from the general populations of the United States, Italy, Russia, Argentina, S...
Article
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Behavioral economics has become an important part of the economics profession. As a subfield, it tries to make sense of persistent violations of the standard model for economics. The major classes of violations involve social preferences (taking the well-being of others into account), time discounting (inconsistencies in valuing present and future...
Article
We conduct a study of altruistic behavior among high school students using the dictator game. We find a much stronger norm of equal splitting than previously observed in the typical university student population, with almost 45% of high school subjects choosing an equal split of the endowment. Tests indicate that this difference is not due to facto...
Article
Time preference is a fundamental component of many economic models and questions of interest. Yet, elicited preferences are frequently questioned on the grounds of potentially confounding elements of the experimental design, such as trust in the experimenter. We report on a time preference experiment using a sample of 490 high school students from...
Article
We report the results of experiments designed to test the effect of social status on contributions to a public good, with and without punishment. The experiments are conducted in four-person groups in a " star" network, where one central player observes and is observed by the others. This imposes a social structure on the game, and gives the centra...
Article
Full-text available
Trust and its complement, trustworthiness, are key concepts in political science. Trust is seen as critical for the existence of stable political institutions, as well as for the formation of social capital and civic engagement (Putnam 1993, 2000; Stolle 1998). It also serves as a social lubricant that reduces the cost of exchange, whether in reach...
Article
Full-text available
KeywordsElinor Ostrom-Social dilemma-Experiment
Chapter
Duncan Black (1948) and Kenneth Arrow (1963) raised the key question of collective choice: if people have different preferences for policy outcomes are there general mechanisms that can (always) aggregate those preferences in consistent and coherent ways? The answer is ‘no’. Starting from simple premises involving individual transitivity, aggregate...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives. Hurricane Katrina necessitated the evacuation of over 200,000 individuals into Houston. This study compared characteristics of three samples of evacuees with those of the U.S. population and examined how evacuees’ experiences have changed over time. Methods. Sub-populations of evacuees in Houston were surveyed immediately following the...
Article
Full-text available
Globalization magnifies the problems that affect all people and that require large-scale human cooperation, for example, the overharvesting of natural resources and human-induced global warming. However, what does globalization imply for the cooperation needed to address such global social dilemmas? Two competing hypotheses are offered. One hypothe...
Article
We investigate risk preferences of a sample of hurricane Katrina evacuees shortly after they were evacuated and transported to Houston, and another sample from the same population taken a year later. We also consider a third sample of resident Houstonians with demographics similar to the Katrina evacuees. Conventional statistical methods fail to ex...
Article
Coordination problems are easily solved when there are clear and unambiguous signals. Institutional mechanisms that enhance the clarity of signals enables even cheap talk to work as a coordinating mechanism. On the other hand, learning about signals, especially if there is path-dependent noise in the environment, complicates the ability of subjects...
Article
This chapter discusses that experiments demonstrate the extent to which outcomes are responsive to the structure of preferences. Where a preference-induced equilibrium exists, outcomes converge toward that equilibrium. Where a natural majority coalition exists, outcomes cluster around it. Where preferences are widely distributed, so too are outcome...
Article
Markets, auction mechanisms and political institutions all affect outcomes. For students of collective choice, minimal decision making institutions provide a baseline by which we expect outcomes that best can be characterized as chaotic. Such outcomes are rarely predictable and the processes by which they are selected are marked by voting cycles an...
Article
With cutbacks in local service delivery budgets, attention has focused on how best to maintain current levels of services without increases in taxation. One alternative focuses on the concept of coproduction-where citizens provide factor inputs to the production of services. This paper analyzes the concept of coproduction, arguing it has a valuable...
Article
Abstract We conduct a study of altruism among,high school and university students using the dictator game. We find a much stronger norm of equal splitting than previously observed in the typical college student population, with almost 45% of high school subjects offering an equal split of the endowment. Tests indicate that thisdifference is not due...
Chapter
Collective choice experiments examine voting mechanisms that aggregate individual preferences. Two general topics have received the most attention. The first pertains to agents deciding on a single collective outcome or policy. The second topic covers election mechanisms that govern candidates and voters.
Article
Full-text available
The authors detail an urban economics experiment that is easily run in the classroom. The experiment has a flexible design that allows the instructor to explore how congestion, zoning, public transportation, and taxation levels determine the bid-rent function. Heterogeneous agents in the experiment compete for land use utilizing a simple auction me...
Article
Crises and disasters, whether natural or man-made, are defined by conditions of uncertainty, disorder, and stress. In this research, we explore the extent to which individuals who were evacuated from New Orleans to Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina cooperated with one another in a public goods game. The study focuses on predominantly Af...
Article
This study considers the effects of ethnic violence on norms of fairness. Once violence is a foregone conclusion, will cooperative norms ever (re-)emerge beyond ethnic boundaries? We use an experiment that measures how fairly individuals in a postconflict setting treat their own ingroup in comparison to the outgroups - in this case, examining the b...
Article
Full-text available
We report the results of experiments designed to test the impact of social status on learning in a coordination game. In the experiment, all subjects observe the play of an agent who either has high status or low status. In one treatment the agent is another player in the game; in the other the agent is a simulated player. Status is assigned within...
Article
We conjecture that the thought processes used to solve dominant strategy games and mixed strategy games are quite distinct. Two-person games with dominant strategies can be treated as simple decision problems that involve no assessment of one's partner. By contrast, two-person games with mixed strategies require that one think about one's partner....
Article
Full-text available
This research examines one mechanism by which people decide whether to trust strangers. Using a laboratory setting that provides subjects with controlled information about their counterparts, we test whether attractive subjects gain a “beauty premium” in a game involving trust and reciprocity. Attractive trustees are viewed as more trustworthy; the...
Article
This paper explores the consequences of cognitive dissonance, coupled with time-inconsistent preferences, in an intertemporal decision problem with two distinct goals: acting decisively on early information (vision) and adjusting flexibly to late information (flexibility). The decision maker considered here is capable of manipulating information to...
Article
Full-text available
We report the results of experiments conducted over the internet between two different laboratories. Each subject at one site is matched with a subject at another site in a trust game experiment. We investigate whether subjects believe they are really matched with another person, and suggest a methodology for ensuring that subjects’ beliefs are a...
Article
Full-text available
This report is an overview of a year-long study of Katrina evacuees living in Houston. Respondents were interviewed at three different times. The questionnaire was self-administrated (although respondents who could not read had the questionnaire read to them). The findings reported here constitute a brief overview of a large project involving 1,081...
Article
Full-text available
The willingness to trust strangers has been associated with a variety of public benefits, from greater civic-mindedness and more honest government to higher rates of economic growth, and more. But a growing body of research finds that such generalized trust is far more common in ethnically homogeneous than in more diverse societies. Ethnic differen...
Article
The concept of coproduction of public services has captured increased attention as a potential means of increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of local government. In this article we explore the concept of coproduction in an effort to sharpen the definition of that concept and add rigor to our understanding of the effects of coproduction in lo...
Article
This article details an experiment that is easily run in the classroom. It demonstrates how two-candidate elections quickly converge to an equilibrium. It points out that the equilibrium is centered on the median voter. Finally, it illustrates what happens when preferences or institutions change. Material associated with conducting the experiment i...
Article
Full-text available
The authors describe a classroom game that introduces the concept of compensating wage differentials by allowing students to negotiate over the assignment of jobs and wages. Two jobs are designed so that neither job requires special skills, but one is significantly more unpleasant than the other. By varying the job titles and duties, students can s...
Article
Full-text available
We report results of a laboratory experiment that examines the impact of attractiveness on trust and reciprocity in a trust game. Subjects in the experiment interact with a counterpart in a lab at another location, and each observe the others' photograph while making their decisions. The photographs are rated by a separate set of subjects drawn fro...
Chapter
Full-text available
We investigate the concepts and perspectives of conflict, power, and status developed across the disciplines of political science, psychology, and sociology. Although the different disciplines, at times, have different assumptions about actors and interactions, we find a great deal of similarity. This similarity allows us to uncover some general pr...
Article
This study explores the ways in which information about other individual's action affects one's own behavior in a dictator game. The experimental design discriminates behaviorally between three possible effects of recipient's within-game reputation on the dictator's decision: Reputation causing indirect reciprocity, social influence, and identifica...
Article
Full-text available
This article investigates the concepts and perspectives of conflict, power, and status developed across the disciplines of political science, psychology, and sociology. Although the different disciplines, at times, have different assumptions about actors and interactions, there is a great deal of similarity. This similarity allows one to uncover so...
Article
Full-text available
We examine trusting behavior when subjects choose between two partners labeled with friendly or unfriendly icons. Subjects play a limited trust game: at the first node, player 1 chooses whether to trust; at the second, player 2 decides whether to reciprocate. Parameters of the game vary the risk and rewards to trust and reciprocity. Subjects prefer...
Article
Full-text available
To what extent do individuals trust one another in transitional societies? Does trust survive when political institutions are weak, when the potential for ethnic conflict is high and when old mechanisms for social control have disappeared? This study uses a combination of survey data and laboratory experimental methods to investigate this question....
Article
Full-text available
The high degree of initial cooperation among strangers is a fascinating empirical regularity. This is not to say that all individuals begin by behaving cooperatively, nor is it the case that a given individual always begins by behaving cooperatively. Humans tend to be conditional cooperators, basing their decision to cooperate on initial expectatio...
Article
Many economists and biologists view cooperation as anomalous: animals (including humans) who pursue their own self-interest have superior survival odds to their altruistic or cooperative neighbors. However, in many situations there are substantial gains to the group that can achieve cooperation among its members, and to individuals who are members...
Article
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"One of the successes in contemporary social science is the development and proliferation of game theory. For a wide range of phenomena, game theory produces enormous insight into the strategic interaction of individuals. Its greatest power lies with predicting the behavior of large groups -- whether this is in the context of markets, political ele...
Article
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Social learning occurs in the context of a structure of social interaction among agents. Models of the social structure typically do not include hierarchical elements, such as status differences among agents. In this paper we report the results of experiments designed to examine learning in the presence of a commonly-observed, higher-status agent....
Article
This paper details the transition from a confederated to a federal legislative system in the United States. Covering the period 1782 through 1792, I examine how political elites fundamentally reshaped their legislative institutions. This period in American history was extremely important. The newly created nation faced enormous problems reconstitut...
Article
Public goods are characterized by the nonexcludability: those who do not contribute can still consume the good. This characteristic can create problems for the creation and maintenance of public goods. However, under some conditions, when the group members know that they will be making numerous decisions together, public good provision is likely. W...
Article
It is often assumed that leaders serve as focal points around which followers rally when confronted with a coordination problem. This research begins with one component of leadership---its coordinating role---and disentangles how leadership matters for followers. This analysis proceeds as a simple one-sided signaling game from leaders to followers...
Article
An abstract public goods setting is considered in which individually rational strategies lead to collectively irrational outcomes. Theorists argue that individual reputations can provide an important means for solving repeated versions of that public goods game. Numerous experimental findings also show that preplay communication leads to higher rat...
Article
Full-text available
Over half of all bills introduced in the U.S. Congress are cosponsored, and, while many observers assume that cosponsorship is crucial to the legislative process, few have analyzed what it means. We view cosponsorship as a signal about the content of legislation and ask whether it is a meaningful signal for members. Specifically we focus on whether...
Article
Full-text available
Models of human strategic behavior overlook the importance of emotion for off the equilibrium path behavior. The research reported here uses a simple ultimatum game in a laboratory setting and focuses on patterns of rejections by subjects in different affective states. Subjects' affect is manipulated using photographed images. Subjects then use the...
Article
This research focuses on the aggregate effects of the House Banking Scandal on the 1992 elections for the U.S. House of Representatives. While many commentators felt the scandal would transform the House of Representatives through massive displacement of members, we argue that the literature on scandals in Congress should have made us more cautious...
Article
"This paper offers our own response to Vincent Ostrom's call for a research program. We are keenly aware of the need for institutional analysis and for practical advice in natural settings. At the same time, we are quite concerned with making certain that we understand the theoretical foundations of the IAD framework. We feel that essential element...
Article
It is commonly asserted that state leaders, when faced with poor domestic political conditions, have an incentive to engage in diversionary foreign policy behavior. The standard view is that an aggressive foreign policy benefits the executive by leading the public to ignore domestic problems and to “rally around the flag” to meet the foreign threat...
Article
Contradictory results regarding sex effects in social dilemmas have been obtained. In some studies women have contributed more than men; in some studies men have contributed more than women; in some studies no sex differences have appeared. This paper attempts to reconcile these findings. We examine whether the participant' sex, the sex composition...
Article
"Our focus in this paper is with the transaction costs inherent in most decision making settings. We specifically investigate an "institution free" collective choice mechanism that includes costs to calling votes. A set of models show that under low costs (i.e., where no cost-induced equilibrium exists), actors have dominant strategies to continue...
Article
This research explores two approaches to modeling decisions about when to resort to conflict. The authors begin from a model of a single actor making unilateral decisions for her or his nation-state. That model is expanded to incorporate advisors who make recommendations to the unitary actor. Those recommendations can be accepted or rejected as the...
Article
The provision of public goods is a social dilemma in which individuals must decide whether to contribute to the group or not to contribute and therefore free ride. We posit that if individuals have information about how each of the other group members has contributed, free riding will occur less frequently than if they do not have this information....
Article
We analyze the viability of the office of President of Congress as a source of leadership in the Continental and Confederation Congresses.1 Our primary interest is in institutionally grounded, as opposed to and separate from charismatic or personal, bases for leadership. We show that virtually every institutional support for leadership power recogn...
Article
"Decision making in any collectivity is costly. When voting, members bear information costs for evaluation competing proposals, they bear opportunity costs for the time taken to conduct a ballot, and they bear the administrative costs for tabulating and registering the outcome. Although many of these costs seem trivial in small settings, in large p...
Article
"When are controlled laboratory experiments valid tests of abstract political models? This paper touches on the general question of internal validity in the design of laboratory experiments. Using a number of (failed) examples from the author's own work, key threats to internal validity in experimentation are explored. While the focus of the paper...
Article
"In this paper we examine what decision making costs mean for outcomes in collective choice settings. Our specific focus is with simple majority rule spatial voting games. Wellknown findings for such games show that outcomes will cycle throughout the policy space given the frictionless nature of simple majority rule processes. Along with many other...
Article
Conducted a decision-making experiment with a mixture of human and robot players and compared the results with those of M. Fiorina and C. Plott (1978), in which only humans were used. Individual undergraduates interacted with a group of robots in a decision setting that predicted a specific outcome (the Condorcet winner), which, under a binary voti...
Article
This research explores the extent of sophisticated voting in a simplified agenda setting. We begin from the commonly held presumption that decision makers (whether legislators or school board members) employ sophisticated strategies when voting. This viewpoint has been rigorously modeled under a variety of formal theories. However, given that there...
Article
"Social dilemmas, n-person prisoner dilemmas, and free-rider/public goods dilemmas share a common set of concerns. They generally point to settings in which markets fail and in which governments play an important role. These variously named 'dilemmas' share a common theoretical structure and a common conclusion. At heart such settings are non-coope...
Article
This article provides a prominent historical example of how directly and thoroughly structure can affect the ability of a political institution to generate even minimally acceptable policy decisions. In the Continental Congress several obstacles to stable coalition formation and operation left most issues to be decided by a few strategically placed...
Article
This article seeks to use laboratory experimental methods in order to investigate the extent to which decision makers employ sophisticated voting strategies. Using two experimental settings that provide very different incentives for sophisticated voting behavior, the analysis turns up little evidence that participants rely on perfect foresight when...
Article
"The primary role of committees in legislatures is to reduce decision making costs through a substantive and managerial division of labor. The use of committees, of course, is not limited to legislatures. Committees are used under a variety of circumstances, from local to international organizations and in public and private settings, in each insta...
Article
"In this paper we formulate a cost-induced equilibrium concept. This equilibrium is generated from transaction costs connected with a sequential agenda process. Our claim is that most collective choice Institutions carry with them decision costs. If these transaction costs are very large, they are sufficient to produce stable collective choices. On...
Article
This article focuses on the connection between procedures and choices in collective decision-making arrangements. The research reported here is based on laboratory experiments in a committee-like setting. Two specific agenda procedures are analyzed: a “forward voting” process that is typical of most social choice theoretic models and a “backward vo...
Article
Many contemporary political and economic problems have attributes of social dilemmas. These dilemmas are simply characterized as settings in which individuals have a dominant strategy to not cooperate in collective action. However, this choice results in a Pareto-inferior outcome. Likewise, a dominated strategy exists that results in a Pareto-super...
Article
"This paper will examine citizen activity in service delivery, sketching an additional facet to the concept of participation. The bulk of the paper will rely on developing an institutional approach to understanding coproduction as an important mode of citizen participation. The model will then be subjected to an empirical test of citizen provisioni...
Article
"Three factors were used to determine what would be included in this bibliography. The first deals with whether or not a study is concerned with institutional arrangements. The second factor deals with the presence or absence of an analysis pertaining to the distribution of public goods within an urban society. the final factor is concerned with wh...
Article
Full-text available
The ultimatum game is a standard instrument for laboratory experimentalists. It had been replicated in a large number of environments and points to special considerations for fairness. Although it has been popular in the experimental community, researchers have not harnessed all the statistical power they should to evaluate the dynamics at work in...