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Are Two Heads Better Than One? Team versus Individual Play in Signaling Games

  • David J. Cooper
  • John H. Kagel

We compare individuals with two-person teams in signaling game experiments. Teams consistently play more strategically than individuals and generate positive synergies in more difficult games, beating a demanding "truth-wins" norm. The superior performance of teams is most striking following changes in payoffs that change the equilibrium outcome. Individuals play less strategically following the change in payoffs than inexperienced subjects playing the same game. In contrast, the teams exhibit positive learning transfer, playing more strategically following the change than inexperienced subjects. Dialogues between teammates are used to identify factors promoting strategic play.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 95 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 477-509

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:95:y:2005:i:3:p:477-509
Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828054201431
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  1. Cooper, David J & Garvin, Susan & Kagel, John H, 1997. "Adaptive Learning vs. Equilibrium Refinements in an Entry Limit Pricing Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(442), pages 553-75, May.
  2. Cooper, David J., 2008. "Learning in Entry Limit Pricing Games," Handbook of Experimental Economics Results, Elsevier.
  3. Armen A. Alchian & Harold Demsetz, 1971. "Production, Information Costs and Economic Organizations," UCLA Economics Working Papers 10A, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Gary Bornstein & Ilan Yaniv, 1998. "Individual and Group Behavior in the Ultimatum Game: Are Groups More “Rational†Players?," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 101-108, June.
  5. Kocher, Martin G. & Sutter, Matthias, 2005. "The decision maker matters: Individual versus group behaviour in experimental beauty-contest games," Munich Reprints in Economics 18213, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  6. Battalio, Raymond & Samuelson, Larry & Van Huyck, John, 2001. "Optimization Incentives and Coordination Failure in Laboratory Stag Hunt Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(3), pages 749-64, May.
  7. David J. Cooper, 1999. "Gaming against Managers in Incentive Systems: Experimental Results with Chinese Students and Chinese Managers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(4), pages 781-804, September.
  8. Irving Lorge & Herbert Solomon, 1955. "Two models of group behavior in the solution of eureka-type problems," Psychometrika, Springer, vol. 20(2), pages 139-148, June.
  9. Camerer, Colin F. & Ho, Teck-Hua & Chong, Juin-Kuan, 2002. "Sophisticated Experience-Weighted Attraction Learning and Strategic Teaching in Repeated Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 137-188, May.
  10. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1991. "Adaptive and sophisticated learning in normal form games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 82-100, February.
  11. Stahl, Dale O., 1996. "Boundedly Rational Rule Learning in a Guessing Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 303-330, October.
  12. David Cooper & John Kagel & Qing Liang Gu & Wei Lo, 1999. "Gaming against managers in incentive systems: Experimental results with chinese students and chinese managers," Artefactual Field Experiments 00038, The Field Experiments Website.
  13. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  14. Sutter, Matthias, 2005. "Are four heads better than two? An experimental beauty-contest game with teams of different size," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 41-46, July.
  15. Brandts, Jordi & Holt, Charles A, 1992. "An Experimental Test of Equilibrium Dominance in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1350-65, December.
  16. Cason, Timothy N & Mui, Vai-Lam, 1997. "A Laboratory Study of Group Polarisation in the Team Dictator Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1465-83, September.
  17. David Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2003. "Lessons Learned: Generalizing Learning Across Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 202-207, May.
  18. David Cooper & John Kagel, 2008. "Learning and transfer in signaling games," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 415-439, March.
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