Mechanisms for Efficient Voting with Private Information about Preferences


  • Corresponding author: Dirk Engelmann, Department of Economics, University of Mannheim, L7, 3-5, D-68131 Mannheim, Germany. Email:

  • We thank Todd Kaplan, Wieland Müller, Hans-Theo Normann, Aljaž Ule, the editor David Myatt and three referees as well as seminar participants at the University of Alicante, Royal Holloway, Tinbergen Institute, the University of Hannover, the University of Magdeburg, the University of Karlsruhe, Dundee University, the University of St. Andrews, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Exeter, as well as participants at the ESA meetings in Montreal and Alessandria, the EEA congress in Vienna and the Verein für Socialpolitik meeting in Bayreuth for helpful comments and suggestions. Part of this research was conducted while Engelmann was a faculty member at Royal Holloway, University of London. Engelmann acknowledges financial support from Royal Holloway and from the institutional research grant AV0Z70850503 of the Economics Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i.


In games of conflict, players typically have an incentive to exaggerate their interests. This concerns issues ranging from negotiations between political parties to conflict resolution within marriages. We experimentally study this problem using a simple voting game where information about preferences is private. With random matching, subjects overwhelmingly follow the dominant strategy to exaggerate their preferences. The exogenous linking mechanism by Jackson and Sonnenschein (2007) captures nearly all achievable efficiency gains. Repeated interaction in various settings, which could allow endogenous linking mechanisms to evolve, leads to significant gains in truthful representation and efficiency only when players can choose their partners.