Flip a coin or vote? An experiment on the implementation and efficiency of social choice mechanisms

Timo Hoffmann, Sander Renes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


Corporate boards, experts panels, parliaments, cabinets, and even nations all take important decisions as a group. Selecting an efficient decision rule to aggregate individual opinions is paramount to the decision quality of these groups. In our experiment we measure revealed preferences over and efficiency of several important decision rules. Our results show that: (1) the efficiency of the theoretically optimal rule is not as robust as simple majority voting, and efficiency rankings in the lab can differ from theory; (2) participation constraints often hinder implementation of more efficient mechanisms; (3) these constraints are relaxed if the less efficient mechanism is risky; (4) participation preferences appear to be driven by realized rather than theoretic payoffs of the decision rules. These findings highlight the difficulty of relying on theory alone to predict what mechanism is better and acceptable to the participants in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)624-655
Number of pages32
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Bayesian games
  • Choice rules
  • Efficiency
  • Experimental economics
  • Group choice
  • Individual rationality
  • Mechanisms
  • Participation constraints
  • Two-stage voting


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