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Social Influence and Strategic Interaction: Observational and Experimental Studies of Decisions in Groups

Weidman, Taylor (2024) Social Influence and Strategic Interaction: Observational and Experimental Studies of Decisions in Groups. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Individuals make choices with personal costs and social impacts in a broad range of environments. This dissertation explores the role of social interaction in decision-making in two settings with this structure using both administrative voter records and experimental social dilemmas in the lab. The first chapter, Homophily Turnout, develops a framework for the role of residential homophily networks, networks of similar neighbors, in the decision to vote. The empirical approach leverages a methodological improvement in geographic observational data that allows both the spatial granularity of nearest neighbors approaches and the through-time variation in panels. This makes it possible to test five hypotheses from the Homophily Turnout framework, showing that neighbors who support the same political party lead voters to turnout at higher rates, especially in lower turnout elections, a relationship that is negative for neighbors who support an opposing party, is stronger for nearer neighbors, and when the neighbor is of the same race. The second chapter, Panel Nearest Neighbors, discusses this new panel nearest neighbors approach and applies the algorithm to voter registration records. This methodological contribution offers researchers a deeper look at geographic residential networks by combining the spatial granularity of nearest neighbors and the through-time consistency of panels, making it newly possible to observe the evolution of a nearest neighborhood. Applying this approach to North Carolina voter registration records uncovers new dynamic relationships in how residential moves and political reaffiliations change the political composition of residential neighborhoods. This makes it possible to approach new questions in the geographic relationships between individual’s in residential networks through time. The third chapter, Testing Models of Strategic Uncertainty, develops an index for cooperative behavior in a broad class of social dilemma games in which multiple equilibria are possible. Using experimental lab data, a generalization of an index summarizing the strategic uncertainty from game primitives organizes the level of cooperation across the number of players. Together, these studies advance our understanding of how individuals use their social context to make individually costly choices.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Weidman, Taylortaw79@pitt.edutaw79
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee CoChairvan Weelden,
Committee CoChairGIUNTELLA,
Committee MemberWilson,
Committee MemberJones,
Date: 13 May 2024
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 15 February 2024
Approval Date: 13 May 2024
Submission Date: 29 March 2024
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 143
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Economy, Experimental Economics
Date Deposited: 13 May 2024 13:59
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 13:59

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