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Strategy Choice and Cognitive Ability in Field Experiments

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  • Abigail Barr
  • Magnus Lindelow

Abstract

We explore the value of the strategy method to field experimentalists. Specifically, we demonstrate that, while the method may lead to reductions in subject understanding, it also generates valuable insights. We played the Third Party Punishment Game and the Generalized Trust Game with Ethiopian medical and nursing students applying the strategy method to the responding role in each case. Then, making use of two proxy measures for the students` cognitive abilities, we investigate the relationship between strategy-type choices and subject understanding. Thus, we find support for the assertion that apparently random and internally inconsistent strategies are symptomatic of problems of cognition. We also find support for the often, implicitly made assumption that, in BDM-type trust games, the ratio of what is returned to what is sent is an appropriate focus for comparative analyses of responder behaviour. Finally, we find evidence that an observed difference in third party punishing behaviour between Swiss and Ethiopian students is due, not to misunderstanding, but to variations in what is perceived as punishable. Our results lead us to conclude that the strategy method is of considerable value in Third Party Punishment Games, but need not be routinely applied in BDM-type trust games.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number GPRG-WPS-034.

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Date of creation: 01 Dec 2005
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:gprg-wps-034

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  1. Jordi Brandts & Gary Charness, 2000. "Hot vs. Cold: Sequential Responses and Preference Stability in Experimental Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 227-238, March.
  2. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory Of Fairness, Competition, And Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868, August.
  3. Blount, Sally & Bazerman, Max H., 1996. "The inconsistent evaluation of absolute versus comparative payoffs in labor supply and bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 227-240, August.
  4. Nancy Buchan & Rachel Croson, 1999. "Gender and Culture: International Experimental Evidence from Trust Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(2), pages 386-391, May.
  5. Greig, Fiona & Bohnet, Iris, 2005. "Is There Reciprocity in a Reciprocal Exchange Economy? Evidence from a Slum in Nairobi, Kenya," Working Paper Series rwp05-044, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  6. Lindelow, Magnus & Serneels, Pieter & Lemma, Teigist, 2005. "The performance of health workers in Ethiopia - results from qualitative research," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3558, The World Bank.
  7. Axel Ockenfels & Gary E. Bolton, 2000. "ERC: A Theory of Equity, Reciprocity, and Competition," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 166-193, March.
  8. Jeannette Brosig & Joachim Weimann & Chun-Lei Yang, 2003. "The Hot Versus Cold Effect in a Simple Bargaining Experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 6(1), pages 75-90, June.
  9. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher, 2004. "Third-party punishment and social norms," Experimental 0409002, EconWPA.
  10. Oxoby, Robert J. & McLeish, Kendra N., 2004. "Sequential decision and strategy vector methods in ultimatum bargaining: evidence on the strength of other-regarding behavior," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 84(3), pages 399-405, September.
  11. Guth, Werner & Huck, Steffen & Muller, Wieland, 2001. "The Relevance of Equal Splits in Ultimatum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 161-169, October.
  12. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
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Cited by:
  1. o'higgins, s. niall & Sbriglia, Patrizia, 2007. "measures of social capital and trust," MPRA Paper 6924, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. Farina, Francesco & Sbriglia, Patrizia, 2007. "Cooperation as self-interested reciprocity in the Centipede," MPRA Paper 3701, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Abigail Barr & Magnus Lindelow, 2005. "Intrinsic motivations on the development frontline: Do they exist? Do they endure?," Economics Series Working Papers GPRG-WPS-033, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  4. Francesco Farina & Patrizia Sbriglia, 2008. "Conditional cooperation in a sequential move game," International Review of Economics, Springer, vol. 55(1), pages 149-165, April.

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