Authors: Samuel S. Komorita and David A. Kravitz

Title: Some tests of four descriptive theories of coalition formation.

Source: In H. Sauermann (Ed.), Contributions to experimental economics: Vol. 8. Coalition forming behavior (pp. 207-230). Tübingen, West Germany: Mohr. 1978.

Two experiments were conducted to test four descriptive theories of coalition formation: Minimum Resource theory; Minimum Power theory; Bargaining theory; and Weighted Probability model. In both experiments subjects were undergraduate students who played a simple, 5-person game over a series of trials. In Experiment 1, two incentive schemes (playing for a small monetary incentive vs. playing for points) were compared. The incentive manipulation had negligible effects. Based on accuracy of predicting which coalitions are likely to form and the reward division among the coalition members, the results provided the greatest support for the Bargaining theory. In Experiment 2, all subjects played for a small monetary incentive, and two experimental procedures were used to test the four theories: Gamson’s “convention” paradigm and S. S. Komorita and Meek’s procedure based on written offers. All theories were less accurate with Gamson’s paradigm, but the results supported both the Bargaining theory and the Weighted Probability model. The results also suggest that the validity of a given theory may depend on the procedure used to test the theory.

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