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The Paradox of Misaligned Profiling: Theory and Experimental Evidence

  • Charles A. Holt

    (University of Virginia)

  • Andrew Kydd

    (University of Wisconsin)

  • Laura Razzolini


    (Virginia Commonwealth University)

  • Roman Sheremeta

    (Case Western Reserve University and the Economic Science Institute)

This paper implements an experimental test of a game-theoretic model of equilibrium profiling. Attackers choose a demographic “type” from which to recruit, and defenders choose which demographic types to search. Some types are more reliable than others in the sense of having a higher probability of carrying out a successful attack if they get past the security checkpoint. In a Nash equilibrium, defenders tend to profile by searching the more reliable attacker types more frequently, whereas the attackers tend to send less reliable types. Data from laboratory experiments with financially motivated human subjects are consistent with the qualitative patterns predicted by theory. However, we also find several interesting behavioral deviations from the theory.

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Paper provided by Chapman University, Economic Science Institute in its series Working Papers with number 14-09.

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Length: 22 pages
Date of creation: 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:14-09
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  1. Atin Basuchoudhary & Laura Razzolini, 2006. "Hiding in plain sight – using signals to detect terrorists," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 245-255, July.
  2. Vincent P. Crawford & Nagore Iriberri, 2007. "Fatal Attraction: Salience, Naïveté, and Sophistication in Experimental "Hide-and-Seek" Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1731-1750, December.
  3. P.-A. Chiappori, 2002. "Testing Mixed-Strategy Equilibria When Players Are Heterogeneous: The Case of Penalty Kicks in Soccer," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1138-1151, September.
  4. Vincent P. Crawford & Miguel A. Costa-Gomes & Nagore Iriberri, 2013. "Structural Models of Nonequilibrium Strategic Thinking: Theory, Evidence, and Applications," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 51(1), pages 5-62, March.
  5. John Knowles & Nicola Persico & Petra Todd, . ""Racial Bias in Motor Vehicle Searches: Theory and Evidence''," CARESS Working Papres 99-06, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  6. Cary Deck & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2012. "Fight or Flight?," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 56(6), pages 1069-1088, December.
  7. Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2004. "Regular quantal response equilibrium," Working Papers 1203, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  8. Jacob K Goeree & Charles A Holt, 2004. "Ten Little Treasures of Game Theory and Ten Intuitive Contradictions," Levine's Working Paper Archive 618897000000000900, David K. Levine.
  9. Dale O. Stahl & Paul W. Wilson, 2010. "On Players' Models of Other Players: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 542, David K. Levine.
  10. Dan Kovenock & Brian Roberson & Roman M. Sheremeta, 2010. "The Attack and Defense of Weakest-Link Networks," Working Papers 10-14, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  11. Sheremeta, Roman, 2013. "Overbidding and Heterogeneous Behavior in Contest Experiments," MPRA Paper 44124, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Sandler, Todd & Arce, Daniel G., 2007. "Terrorism: A Game-Theoretic Approach," Handbook of Defense Economics, Elsevier.
  13. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
  14. Amos Tversky & Daniel Kahneman, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Levine's Working Paper Archive 7656, David K. Levine.
  15. Kate L. Antonovics & Brian G. Knight, 2004. "A New Look at Racial Profiling: Evidence from the Boston Police Department," NBER Working Papers 10634, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Stahl, Dale II & Wilson, Paul W., 1994. "Experimental evidence on players' models of other players," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 309-327, December.
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