Departmental Papers (CIS)

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper


Kearns, M., Judd, S., & Vorobeychik, Y., Behavioral Experiments on a Network Formation Game, ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce, June 2012, doi: 10.1145/2229012.2229066

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We report on an extensive series of behavioral experiments in which 36 human subjects collectively build a communication network over which they must solve a competitive coordination task for monetary compensation. There is a cost for creating network links, thus creating a tension between link expenditures and collective and individual incentives. Our most striking finding is the poor performance of the subjects, especially compared to our long series of prior experiments. We demonstrate that the subjects built difficult networks for the coordination task, and compare the structural properties of the built networks to standard generative models of social networks. We also provide extensive analysis of the individual and collective behavior of the subjects, including free riding and factors influencing edge purchasing decisions.



Date Posted: 24 July 2012