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When Focal Points are Out of Focus: A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Come Dine with Me

Author

Listed:
  • David Schüller
  • Thorsten Upmann

Abstract

We interpret the TV-show Come Dine with Me as a simultaneous non-cooperative game with evaluation levels as strategic variables, and show that it belongs to a class of strategic games which we label mutual evaluations games (MEG). Any MEG possesses a ‘zero equilibrium’—i. e. a Nash equilibrium where all players evaluate each other with the lowest available scores — as well as numberless ‘non-zero equilibria’. Since the former is an equilibrium in weakly dominant strategies, it may arguably be regarded as a focal point. Yet, in 212 rounds of the German format of Come Dine with Me contestants never got to this focal point, nor did they (with one exception) play any other equilibrium. We provide potential explanations for this off-equilibrium behaviour by considering the impact of social pressure and reputation mechanisms, bandwagon effects, inequality aversion and sequential voting effects.

Suggested Citation

  • David Schüller & Thorsten Upmann, 2013. "When Focal Points are Out of Focus: A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Come Dine with Me," CESifo Working Paper Series 4138, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4138
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp4138.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Schüller, David & Tauchmann, Harald & Upmann, Thorsten & Weimar, Daniel, 2014. "Pro-social behavior in the TV show “Come Dine With Me”: An empirical investigation," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 44-55.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    non-cooperative game; aggregative game; Nash-equilibrium; focal point; Come Dine with Me; mutual evaluation game; other regarding preferences; sequential voting effect;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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