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Field Centipedes

  • Ignacio Palacios-Huerta
  • Oscar Volij

In the centipede game, all standard equilibrium concepts dictate that the player who decides first must stop the game immediately. There is vast experimental evidence, however, that this rarely occurs. We first conduct a field experiment in which highly ranked chess players play this game. Contrary to previous evidence, our results show that69 percent of chess players stop immediately. When we restrict attention to Grandmasters, this percentage escalates to 100 percent. We then conduct a laboratory experiment in which chess players and students are matched in different treatments. When students play against chess players, the outcome approaches the subgame-perfect equilibrium. (JEL C72, C93)

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

Volume (Year): 99 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 1619-35

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:99:y:2009:i:4:p:1619-35
Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.99.4.1619
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  1. Reny Philip J., 1993. "Common Belief and the Theory of Games with Perfect Information," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 59(2), pages 257-274, April.
  2. David M Kreps & Robert Wilson, 2003. "Sequential Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000813, David K. Levine.
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  4. Fey, Mark & McKelvey, Richard D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1996. "An Experimental Study of Constant-Sum Centipede Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 25(3), pages 269-87.
  5. Rapoport, Amnon & Stein, William E. & Parco, James E. & Nicholas, Thomas E., 2003. "Equilibrium play and adaptive learning in a three-person centipede game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 239-265, May.
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  7. McKelvey, Richard D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1992. "An Experimental Study of the Centipede Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 803-36, July.
  8. Binmore, Ken & McCarthy, John & Ponti, Giovanni & Samuelson, Larry & Shaked, Avner, 2002. "A Backward Induction Experiment," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 48-88, May.
  9. Asheim,G.B. & Dufwenberg,M., 2000. "Deductive reasoning in extensive games," Memorandum 08/2000, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  10. 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.
  11. Aumann, Robert J., 1995. "Backward induction and common knowledge of rationality," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 6-19.
  12. 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.
  13. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
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  17. repec:oup:restud:v:64:y:1997:i:1:p:23-46 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. 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 Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
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