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The authors study the effects of deliberation on collective decisions. In a series of experiments, they vary groups' preference distributions (between common and conflicting interests) and the institutions by which decisions are reached (simple majority, two-thirds majority, and unanimity). When deliberation is prohibited, different institutions generate significantly different outcomes, tracking the theoretical comparative statics. Deliberation, however, significantly diminishes institutional differences and uniformly improves efficiency. Furthermore, communication protocols exhibit an array of stable attributes: messages are public, consistently reveal private information, provide a good predictor for ultimate group choices, and follow particular (endogenous) sequencing.
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