Responsibility Attribution for Collective Decision Makers

We argue that individuals use responsibility attribution heuristics that apply to collective decisions made, for example, by families, teams within firms, boards in international organizations, or coalition governments. We conduct laboratory and online experiments to tease out the heuristics subjects use in their responsibility attribution for collective decision makers. The lab experiments comprise a collective dictator game in which decision makers have weighted votes and recipients can punish individual decisionmakers. Our results show that recipients punish unfair allocations andmainly target the decision maker with proposal power and with the largest vote share. We find weak evidence that decision makers with veto power are targeted or that recipients punish proportional to vote share. The online experiment demonstrates that subjects indeed believe that the decision maker with proposal power has the most influence on the collective decision outcome. We discuss the implications of our findings for theories of vote choice.

Raymond Duch (Nuffield College Oxford)
Wojtek Przepiorka (University of Oxford)
Randolph Stevenson (Rice University).

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