Deliberative Structures and their Impact on Voting under Economic Conflict

Authors: Jordi Brandts, Leonie Gerhards and Lydia Mechtenberg

Experimental Economics, September, 2021

We conduct a laboratory experiment to investigate how different deliberative structures of varying inclusiveness affect collective decisions in the presence of economic conflict. An electorate consists of two groups, one informed and one uninformed about an uncertain state of the economy. This state affects payoffs differently for the two groups. We study three deliberative structures that vary in how the uninformed are included in pre-vote communication. Compared with a setting without any communication, we find that communication in all three deliberation treatments leads to more frequent votes for the efficient policies. The most inclusive deliberative structure motivates more truthfulness, more trust, more cooperativeness (i.e. refraining from protest votes), and more votes for the efficient policies, than the least inclusive structure. However, comparison among the deliberation treatments reveals that the most inclusive deliberative structure is not the one that generates the highest degree of truthfulness. The dynamics of communication lead to a general deterioration of truth-telling and cooperativeness, reinforced by the use of disrespectful and uncooperative language.

This paper originally appeared as Barcelona School of Economics Working Paper 1022