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Behavioral spillovers and cognitive load in multiple games: An experimental study

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  • Bednar, Jenna
  • Chen, Yan
  • Liu, Tracy Xiao
  • Page, Scott

Abstract

We present evidence from laboratory experiments of behavioral spillovers and cognitive load that spread across strategic contexts. In the experiments, subjects play two distinct games simultaneously with different opponents. We find that the strategies chosen and the efficiency of outcomes in one game depends on the other game that the subject plays, and that play is altered in predictable directions. We develop a measure of behavioral variation in a normal form game, outcome entropy, and find that prevalent strategies in games with low outcome entropy are more likely to be used in the games with high outcome entropy, but not vice versa. Taken together, these findings suggest that people do not treat strategic situations in isolation, but may instead develop heuristics that they apply across games.

Suggested Citation

  • Bednar, Jenna & Chen, Yan & Liu, Tracy Xiao & Page, Scott, 2012. "Behavioral spillovers and cognitive load in multiple games: An experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 12-31.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:74:y:2012:i:1:p:12-31
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2011.06.009
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Multiple games; Behavioral spillover; Cognitive load; Entropy; Experiment;

    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
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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