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Checkmate: Exploring backward induction among chess players

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  • Steven Levitt
  • John List
  • Sally Sadoff

Abstract

Although backward induction is a cornerstone of game theory, most laboratory experiments have found that agents are not able to successfully backward induct. We analyze the play of world-class chess players in the centipede game, which is ill-suited for testing backward induction, and in pure backward induction games--Race to 100 games. We find that chess players almost never play the backward induction equilibrium in the centipede game, but many properly backward induct in the Race to 100 games. We find no systematic within-subject relationship between choices in the centipede game and performance in pure backward induction games.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Artefactual Field Experiments with number 00081.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:feb:artefa:00081

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Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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References

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  1. Johnson, Eric J. & Camerer, Colin & Sen, Sankar & Rymon, Talia, 2002. "Detecting Failures of Backward Induction: Monitoring Information Search in Sequential Bargaining," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 16-47, May.
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  9. Zauner, Klaus G., 1999. "A Payoff Uncertainty Explanation of Results in Experimental Centipede Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 157-185, January.
  10. Avinash Dixit, 2005. "Restoring Fun to Game Theory," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(3), pages 205-219, July.
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  12. Gary Bornstein & Tamar Kugler & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2002. "Individual and Group Decisions in the Centipede Game: Are Groups More “Rational” Players?," Discussion Paper Series dp298, The Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  13. Aumann, Robert J., 1995. "Backward induction and common knowledge of rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 6-19.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Brosig-Koch, Jeannette & Heinrich, Timo & Helbach, Christoph, 2014. "Does truth win when teams reason strategically?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 123(1), pages 86-89.
  2. Geoffroy de Clippel & Kfir Eliaz & Brian Knight, 2012. "On the Selection of Arbitrators," Working Papers 2012-8, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  3. Bühren, Christoph & Frank, Björn & Krabel, Stefan & Werner, Alexander, 2012. "Decision-making in competitive framings—Strategic behavior of chess players in mini-ultimatum game chess puzzles," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 115(3), pages 356-358.
  4. Paolo Crosetto & Marco Mantovani, 2012. "Availability of Information and Representation Effects in the Centipede Game," Jena Economic Research Papers 2012-051, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  5. Matthew Kotchen & Matthew Potoski, 2011. "Conflicts of Interest Distort Public Evaluations: Evidence from the Top 25 Ballots of NCAA Football Coaches," NBER Working Papers 17628, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2012. "Masters of our time: Impatience and self-control in high-level chess games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 179-191.
  7. Le Coq, Chloe & Tremewan, James & Wagner, Alexander K., 2013. "Social Centipedes: the Impact of Group Identity on Preferences and Reasoning," SITE Working Paper Series 24, Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics, Stockholm School of Economics.
  8. Jeannette Brosig-Koch & Timo Heinrich & Christoph Helbach, 2012. "Exploring the Capability to Backward Induct – An Experimental Study with Children and Young Adults," Ruhr Economic Papers 0360, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  9. Cardella, Eric, 2012. "Learning to make better strategic decisions," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(1), pages 382-392.
  10. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Graham, Michael & Wolf, Jesse, 2013. "Cognitive ability and strategic sophistication," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 115-130.
  11. Gerdes, Christer & Gränsmark, Patrik & Rosholm, Michael, 2011. "Chicken or Checkin'? Rational Learning in Repeated Chess Games," IZA Discussion Papers 5862, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  12. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2010. "Social Screening and Cooperation Among Expert Chess Players," Working Paper Series 4/2010, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  13. Kawagoe, Toshiji & Takizawa, Hirokazu, 2012. "Level-k analysis of experimental centipede games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 548-566.
  14. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2010. "A Rib Less Makes you Consistent but Impatient: A Gender Comparison of Expert Chess Players," Working Paper Series 5/2010, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  15. Gränsmark, Patrik, 2012. "Masters of Our Time: Impatience and Self-control in High-level Chess Games," Working Paper Series 2/2012, Swedish Institute for Social Research.

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