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Contests with group size uncertainty: Experimental evidence

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  • Boosey, Luke
  • Brookins, Philip
  • Ryvkin, Dmitry

Abstract

In many contest situations, the number of participants is not observable at the time of investment. We design a laboratory experiment to study individual behavior in Tullock (lottery) contests with group size uncertainty. There is a fixed pool of n potential players, each with independent probability q∈(0,1] of participating. We independently manipulate each of the parameters and test the implied comparative statics predictions. Our results provide considerable support for the theory, both in terms of comparative statics and point predictions. Most surprisingly, we find no evidence of overbidding in treatments where there is a nontrivial probability that group size is one. This stands in stark contrast to the robust overbidding observed in experimental contests with deterministic group size. We propose a one-parameter model that incorporates nonlinear probability weighting and a modified version of joy of winning, which we call Constant Winning Aspirations (CWA), and show that it neatly organizes all of our results.

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  • Boosey, Luke & Brookins, Philip & Ryvkin, Dmitry, 2017. "Contests with group size uncertainty: Experimental evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 105(C), pages 212-229.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:105:y:2017:i:c:p:212-229
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2017.07.008
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    Cited by:

    1. Francesco Fallucchi & Jan Niederreiter & Massimo Riccaboni, 2021. "Learning and dropout in contests: an experimental approach," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 90(2), pages 245-278, March.
    2. Boris Ginzburg, 2021. "Optimal Price Of Entry Into A Competition," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 59(1), pages 280-286, January.
    3. Hillenbrand, Adrian & Winter, Fabian, 2018. "Volunteering under population uncertainty," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 65-81.
    4. Adrian Hillenbrand & Tobias Werner & Fabian Winter, 2020. "Volunteering at the Workplace under Incomplete Information: Teamsize Does Not Matter," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2020_04, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    5. Subhasish M. Chowdhury & Anwesha Mukherjee & Theodore L. Turocy, 2021. "And the first runner-up is...: Sequential versus simultaneous winner revelation in multi-winner discriminated Tullock contests," Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) 21-01, School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK..
    6. Philip Brookins & Dmitry Ryvkin & Andrew Smyth, 2021. "Indefinitely repeated contests: An experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 24(4), pages 1390-1419, December.
    7. Fallucchi, Francesco & Ramalingam, Abhijit & Rockenbach, Bettina & Waligora, Marcin, 2021. "Inequality and competitive effort: The roles of asymmetric resources, opportunity and outcomes," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 185(C), pages 81-96.
    8. Boosey, Luke & Brookins, Philip & Ryvkin, Dmitry, 2019. "Contests between groups of unknown size," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 756-769.
    9. Nelson, Arthur B, 2020. "Deterrence in sequential contests: An experimental study," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 86(C).
    10. Arthur B. Nelson, 2019. "Deterrence in sequential contests: An experimental study," Working Papers wp2019_11_02, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
    11. Jiao, Qian & Ke, Changxia & Liu, Yang, 2022. "When to disclose the number of contestants: Theory and experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 193(C), pages 146-160.
    12. Luke Boosey & Philip Brookins & Dmitry Ryvkin, 2020. "Information Disclosure in Contests with Endogenous Entry: An Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(11), pages 5128-5150, November.
    13. Aycinena, Diego & Rentschler, Lucas, 2019. "Entry in contests with incomplete information: Theory and experiments," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    14. Luke Boosey & Philip Brookins & Dmitry Ryvkin, 2020. "Entry in group contests," Working Papers wp2020_02_01, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
    15. Jan Niederreiter, 2023. "Broadening Economics in the Era of Artificial Intelligence and Experimental Evidence," Italian Economic Journal: A Continuation of Rivista Italiana degli Economisti and Giornale degli Economisti, Springer;Società Italiana degli Economisti (Italian Economic Association), vol. 9(1), pages 265-294, March.
    16. Vasudha Chopra & Hieu M. Nguyen & Christian A. Vossler, 2020. "Heterogeneous group contests with incomplete information," Working Papers 2020-05, University of Tennessee, Department of Economics.
    17. Luke A. Boosey & Christopher Brown, 2021. "Contests with Network Externalities: Theory & Evidence," Working Papers wp2021_07_02, Department of Economics, Florida State University.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Contest; Group size uncertainty; Experiment; Overbidding; Probability weighting; Joy of winning; Constant winning aspirations;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design

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