Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Ion Juvina, Ph.D. (Advisor); Kevin Gluck, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Joseph Houpt, Ph.D. (Committee Member); Valerie Shalin, Ph.D. (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Individuals often need to coordinate with others to pursue and achieve goals. However, individuals often fail to coordinate on any choice or on efficient (i.e., higher reward) choices. Researchers addressing coordination failure often used invasive methods ranging in complexity and generalizability with minimal success. There are also no clear measures for coordination behaviors. Here, I used a more parsimonious and generalizable method: Using counterfactuals (i.e., hypothetical outcomes had they or other players chosen differently) to nudge (i.e., indirectly guide and allow for free choice) individuals towards choosing options that are more likely to result in efficient coordination. I simulated a coordination situation using a modified minimum effort game (MEG) with counterfactual manipulations and included effort-related trait measures. Participants played the MEG with other humans or bots based on a mathematical model from game theory. In the first experiment I used neutral bidirectional counterfactuals (i.e., outcomes if own choice or minimum was one lower or higher). I found higher coordination efficiency compared to previous experiments and no relationships with trait measures in human or bot groups. In the second experiment with only bot groups, I found evidence that those receiving upward counterfactuals performed better than those receiving downward. There was also evidence that one human can encourage other players to make more efficient choices with behavior-based nudging (i.e., signaling) regardless of counterfactual condition. Since bot behavior was artificial, I developed a cognitive model within ACT-R that was able to approximate human behavior and processing in the MEG better than competing models. This dissertation contributed to the coordination literature by introducing: 1) novel methods to measure coordination, efficiency, and signaling, 2) a novel method to nudge individuals towards coordination efficiency, and 3) a novel model of coordination within a cognitive architecture that better explains behavior, cognitive processes, and group dynamics

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Psychology

Year Degree Awarded