Boris van Leeuwen


Predictably Angry: Facial cues provide a credible signal of destructive behavior
Joint work with Charles Noussair, Theo Offerman, Sigrid Suetens, Matthijs van Veelen and Jeroen van de Ven

Evolutionary explanations of anger as a commitment device hinge on two key assumptions. The first is that it is predictable, ex-ante, whether someone will get angry when feeling that they have been badly treated. The second is that anger is associated with destructive behavior. We test the validity of these two assumptions. We collected photos of responders in an ultimatum game before they were informed about the game that they would be playing, and filmed responders with webcams during play. We then showed pairs of photos, consisting of one responder who rejected, and one responder who accepted, a low offer, to an independent group of observers. We find that observers are better than chance at detecting who rejected the low offer; they do 10% better than random guessing would. We also find that anger at receiving a low offer is associated with rejection.
Link to paper Accepted for publication in Management Science

Working papers

Competition for status creates superstars: An experiment on public good provision and network formation
Joint work with Theo Offerman and Arthur Schram

We investigate a mechanism that facilitates the provision of public goods in a network formation game. We show how competition for status encourages a core player to realize efficiency gains for the entire group. In a laboratory experiment we systematically examine the effects of group size and status rents. The experimental results provide very clear support for a competition for status dynamic that predicts when, and if so which, repeated game equilibrium is reached. Two control treatments allow us to reject the possibility that the supergame effects we observe are driven by social motives.
Working Paper (PDF)
This paper supersedes our working paper "Superstars need social benefits"

Authority & Centrality: Leadership and cooperation in networked teams
Joint work with Abhijit Ramalingam, David Rojo Arjona and Arthur Schram

We experimentally investigate the effects of two different forms of leadership – authority and centrality - on cooperation in teams. A leader with authority can allocate funds between him/herself and the rest of the team, while leaders with centrality keep a team together by having a pivotal position in a network. In some treatments, players can vote to exclude others and prevent them from further participation in the team. We find that teams with authority reach low cooperation levels, and that leaders with authority are typically excluded early on in the game. In stark contrast, teams with centrality keep up high levels of cooperation, despite tolerating free riding by leaders with centrality.
Working Paper (PDF)