Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration



Committee Chair

Andrew Hussey

Committee Member

Jamin Speer

Committee Member

William T. Smith

Committee Member

George Deitz


This dissertation explores behaviors that are exhibited in dyadic econmic games, in which the individual players often reveal social preferences, involving utility derived from acting on behalf of another. I explore related concepts of trust, altruism, communication (in the form of linguistic signaling), and social norms -- topics not well handled by conventional theory. In each essay, I design and execute laboratory experiements to test whether agent decisions deviate from theoretical predictions and to determine to what degree individual characteristics can imply social preferences, influence belief formation, or suggest judgments based on sterotypes. The topics of conditional judgement and linguistic signaling are at the frontier of experimental econoic literature. In the first essay, i explore the effects of types of computer-mediated communication, including emojis, on economic trust behavior. Modalities of CMC have varying degrees of signaling content, influencing an agent's beliefs about (and judgments of) an anonymous counterpart. In the second essay, I conduct a methodological horserace between content analysis (a traditional research approach) and a more objective, incentivized coordination game framework. I find that by criteria, the later is a more efficient method for mining group opinions and belief structures within an experimental context. In the third essay, I explore choices over shared lotteries, in which the welfare of a passive member is dicated by a shielding agent in the face of asymmetric consequences. I find that females are overwhelmingly more likely to sacifice personal payoffs to shield a dyad. There is a strong social norm for shielding a pair, in particular when outcomes are disproportionate. Such behavior mirrors real-life situations, such as the decision to uptake a vaccination.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.