Nikos Nikiforakis

Title: Eliciting thresholds for interdependent behavior.

Abstract: Threshold models have a long history in the study of human behavior. An attractive feature of these models is that they provide clear predictions about social outcomes when preferences are heterogeneous and choices are interdependent. The predictions, however, depend critically on the exact distributions of thresholds. Here, we introduce an incentive-compatible method for measuring individual thresholds – the minimum share of others exhibiting a behavior such that an individual does so, too. We present a simple model for determining thresholds. We test its predictions by asking a large sample of the US population, stratified by race, ethnicity and gender, about their support for affirmative action policies. A majority of individuals have thresholds for supporting affirmative action. The thresholds are in line with the model’s predictions. The model enables simulations of societal equilibria under varied conditions.

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