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Measuring Strategic Uncertainty in Coordination Games

  • Frank Heinemann
  • Rosemarie Nagel
  • Peter Ockenfels

This paper explores three aspects of strategic uncertainty: its relation to risk, predictability of behavior and subjective beliefs of players. In a laboratory experiment we measure subjects’ certainty equivalents for three coordination games and one lottery. Behavior in coordination games is related to risk aversion, experience seeking, and age. From the distribution of certainty equivalents we estimate probabilities for successful coordination in a wide range of games. For many games, success of coordination is predictable with a reasonable error rate. The best response to observed behavior is close to the global-game solution. Comparing choices in coordination games with revealed risk aversion, we estimate subjective probabilities for successful coordination. In games with a low coordination requirement, most subjects underestimate the probability of success. In games with a high coordination requirement, most subjects overestimate this probability. Estimating probabilistic decision models, we show that the quality of predictions can be improved when individual characteristics are taken into account. Subjects’ behavior is consistent with probabilistic beliefs about the aggregate outcome, but inconsistent with probabilistic beliefs about individual behavior.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1364.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1364
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  1. Berninghaus, Siegfried K. & Ehrhart, Karl-Martin, 2001. "Coordination and information: recent experimental evidence," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 73(3), pages 345-351, December.
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  9. Antonio Cabrales & Rosemarie Nagel & Roc Armenter, 2007. "Equilibrium selection through incomplete information in coordination games: an experimental study," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(3), pages 221-234, September.
  10. Schechter, Laura, 2007. "Traditional trust measurement and the risk confound: An experiment in rural Paraguay," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 272-292, February.
  11. Frank Heinemann & Rosemarie Nagel & Peter Ockenfels, 2004. "The Theory of Global Games on Test: Experimental Analysis of Coordination Games with Public and Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1583-1599, 09.
  12. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2003. "Risk averse behavior in generalized matching pennies games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 45(1), pages 97-113, October.
  13. Schmidt, David & Shupp, Robert & Walker, James M. & Ostrom, Elinor, 2003. "Playing safe in coordination games:: the roles of risk dominance, payoff dominance, and history of play," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(2), pages 281-299, February.
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  16. Andreas Lange & John A. List & Michael K. Price, 2004. "Auctions with Resale When Private Values Are Uncertain: Theory and Empirical Evidence," NBER Working Papers 10639, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
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