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Does mutual knowledge of preferences lead to more equilibrium play? Experimental evidence

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  • Brunner, Christoph
  • Kauffeldt, T. Florian
  • Rau, Hannes

Abstract

In many experiments, the Nash equilibrium concept seems not to predict well. One reason may be that players have non-selfish preferences over outcomes. As a consequence, even when they are told what the material payoffs of the game are, mutual knowledge of preferences may not be satisfied. We experimentally examine several 2x2 games and test whether revealing players' preferences leads to more equilibrium play. For that purpose, we elicit subjects' preferences over outcomes before the games are played. It turns out that subjects are significantly more likely to play an equilibrium strategy when other players' preferences are revealed. We discuss a noisy version of the Bayesian Nash equilibrium and a model of strategic ambiguity to account for observed subject behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Brunner, Christoph & Kauffeldt, T. Florian & Rau, Hannes, 2017. "Does mutual knowledge of preferences lead to more equilibrium play? Experimental evidence," Working Papers 0629, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:awi:wpaper:0629
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dufwenberg, Martin & Kirchsteiger, Georg, 2004. "A theory of sequential reciprocity," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 268-298, May.
    2. Irenaeus Wolff, 2013. "When best-replies are not in Equilibrium: Understanding Cooperative Behaviour," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2013-28, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
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    Keywords

    Behavioral Game Theory; Epistemic Game Theory; Nash Equilibrium; Games of Incomplete Information;

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