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Strengths of the "Weakest Link"?

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  • Philippe Février

    (Crest)

  • Laurent Linnemer

    (Crest)

Abstract

The "Weakest Link" is a game show full of paradox. To increase the probability of winning, contestants should eliminate the strongest players. Yet, if it is anticipated that the best player is to be eliminated, participants do not answer questions correctly and nothing is gained. We solve a game that illustrates the Weakest Link tradeoffs and show that two equilibria coexist: an equilibrium in which players remain silent and a more entertaining equilibrium in which they give good answers whenever they can. We study the first wave of the Weakest Link show broadcast in France. Contestants vote against the weakest player and answer truthfully to the questions. They exhibit, however, myopic behavior as they do not use all the available information. The selection of one equilibrium or the other relies on how players coordinate in voting subgames. Three arguments are provided to explain observed behavior: Pareto domination, risk domination, and the "mise en scène" of the show.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Février & Laurent Linnemer, 2002. "Strengths of the "Weakest Link"?," Working Papers 2002-24, Center for Research in Economics and Statistics.
  • Handle: RePEc:crs:wpaper:2002-24
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Robert Gertner, 1993. "Game Shows and Economic Behavior: Risk-Taking on "Card Sharks"," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(2), pages 507-521.
    2. John C. Harsanyi & Reinhard Selten, 1988. "A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582384, March.
    3. Van Huyck, John B & Battalio, Raymond C & Beil, Richard O, 1990. "Tacit Coordination Games, Strategic Uncertainty, and Coordination Failure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 234-248, March.
    4. Cooper, Russell, et al, 1990. "Selection Criteria in Coordination Games: Some Experimental Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 218-233, March.
    5. Harsanyi John C., 1995. "A New Theory of Equilibrium Selection for Games with Incomplete Information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 318-332, August.
    6. Russell Cooper & Douglas V. DeJong & Robert Forsythe & Thomas W. Ross, 1992. "Communication in Coordination Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 739-771.
    7. Berk, Jonathan B & Hughson, Eric & Vandezande, Kirk, 1996. "The Price Is Right, but Are the Bids? An Investigation of Rational Decision Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 954-970, September.
    8. Metrick, Andrew, 1995. "A Natural Experiment in "Jeopardy!"," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 240-253, March.
    9. Mark Walker & John Wooders, 2001. "Minimax Play at Wimbledon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1521-1538, December.
    10. Rafael Tenorio & Timothy N. Cason, 2002. "To Spin or Not to Spin? Natural and Laboratory Experiments from "The Price is Right"," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 170-195, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jullien, Bruno & Salanié, Bernard, 2005. "Empirical Evidence on the Preferences of Racetrack Bettors," IDEI Working Papers 178, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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