Experimental Investigations of Alliance-building

Peter DeScioli, Departments of Psychology and Economics,Brandeis University
Peter DeScioli was awarded an IFREE Small Grant for his proposal “Experimental investigations of alliance-building.” The project examines human alliance-building in a laboratory environment in which participants can dispute over resources, recruit allies, and choose sides in other people’s disputes. The experiments will test predictions from theories about alliances, specifically that people will build alliances when disputes allow for side-taking, that alliance-building will equalize power across individuals, and that alliances will result in more costly disputes. The experiments will also vary the information available to participants about other participants’ side-taking decisions to test whether more complete information facilitates alliance formation. The findings will improve our understanding of how people choose sides in disputes, offering insight into how resources are distributed in strategic social environments where people take sides in other people’s conflicts. These insights in turn can illuminate a variety of complex human social behaviors such as friendship, gossip, and moral judgment.