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Does Experience Teach? Professionals and Minimax Play in the Lab

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  • John Wooders

Abstract

Does expertise in strategic behavior obtained in the field transfer to the abstract setting of the laboratory? Palacios-Huerta and Volij (2008) argued that the behavior of professional soccer players in mixed-strategy games conforms closely to minimax play, while the behavior of students (who are presumably novices in strategic situations requiring unpredictability) does not. We reexamine their data, showing that the play of professionals is inconsistent with the minimax hypothesis in several respects: (i) professionals follow nonstationary mixtures, with action frequencies that are negatively correlated between the first and the second half of the experiment, (ii) professionals tend to switch between under- and overplaying an action relative to its equilibrium frequency, and (iii) the distribution of action frequencies across professionals is far from the distribution implied by minimax. In each respect, the behavior of students conforms more closely to the minimax hypothesis. Copyright 2010 The Econometric Society.

Suggested Citation

  • John Wooders, 2010. "Does Experience Teach? Professionals and Minimax Play in the Lab," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(3), pages 1143-1154, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:78:y:2010:i:3:p:1143-1154
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    Cited by:

    1. Spenkuch, Jörg, 2014. "Backward Induction in the Wild: Evidence from the U.S. Senate," MPRA Paper 58766, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Emara, Noha & Owens, David & Smith, John & Wilmer, Lisa, 2017. "Serial correlation in National Football League play calling and its effects on outcomes," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 125-132.
    3. Martin G. Kocher & Marc V. Lenz & Matthias Sutter, 2010. "Psychological pressure in competitive environments: Evidence from a randomized natural experiment: Comment," NCER Working Paper Series 55, National Centre for Econometric Research.
    4. repec:jdm:journl:v:12:y:2017:i:6:p:596-609 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & David H. Reiley, 2010. "What Happens in the Field Stays in the Field: Exploring Whether Professionals Play Minimax in Laboratory Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(4), pages 1413-1434, July.
    6. David M. Kaplan & Matt Goldman, 2013. "Comparing distributions by multiple testing across quantiles," Working Papers 13-19, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised Feb 2018.
    7. Martin Kocher & Marc V. Lenz & Matthias Sutter, 2010. "Psychological pressure in competitive environments: Evidence from a randomized natural experiment: Comment, Second Version," University of East Anglia Applied and Financial Economics Working Paper Series 015, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    8. Jacquemet, Nicolas & Koessler, Frédéric, 2013. "Using or hiding private information? An experimental study of zero-sum repeated games with incomplete information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 103-120.
    9. Camerer, Colin F. & Ho, Teck-Hua, 2015. "Behavioral Game Theory Experiments and Modeling," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, Elsevier.
    10. Spiliopoulos, Leonidas, 2012. "Pattern recognition and subjective belief learning in a repeated constant-sum game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 921-935.
    11. Spiliopoulos, Leonidas, 2013. "Beyond fictitious play beliefs: Incorporating pattern recognition and similarity matching," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 69-85.
    12. Duffy, Sean & Naddeo, JJ & Owens, David & Smith, John, 2016. "Cognitive load and mixed strategies: On brains and minimax," MPRA Paper 71878, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Emara, Noha & Owens, David & Smith, John & Wilmer, Lisa, 2014. "Minimax on the gridiron: Serial correlation and its effects on outcomes in the National Football League," MPRA Paper 58907, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    14. Martin G. Kocher & Marc V. Lenz & Matthias Sutter, 2012. "Psychological Pressure in Competitive Environments: New Evidence from Randomized Natural Experiments," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 58(8), pages 1585-1591, August.
    15. Jason Shachat & J. Todd Swarthout & Lijia Wei, 2011. "Man versus Nash An experiment on the self-enforcing nature of mixed strategy equilibrium," Working Papers 1101, Xiamen Unversity, The Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics, Finance and Economics Experimental Laboratory, revised 21 Feb 2011.
    16. Okano, Yoshitaka, 2013. "Minimax play by teams," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 77(1), pages 168-180.
    17. Van Essen, Matt & Wooders, John, 2015. "Blind stealing: Experience and expertise in a mixed-strategy poker experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 186-206.

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