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Communication, coordination and competition in the beauty contest game: Eleven classroom experiments


  • Virtudes Alba-Fernández
  • Pablo Brañas-Garza
  • Francisca Jiménez-Jiménez
  • Javier Rodero-Cosano



This paper introduces some new features in the standard experimental design of the beauty contest in order to allow communication among participants. With that aim, we use the mode instead of the mean and non-rival payoffs. This design encourages students to communicate their guessed number, with a higher probability if subjects know the 0 Nash equilibrium. The lack of communication can only be explained by subjects endowed with competitive other-regarding preferences. Experiments are run in 11 classrooms ranging from 11 to 60 students in size. Participants are given at least one week to submit their guesses and a questionnaire explaining their choice. Results indicate that: i) communication induces coordination in the responses, ii) communication does not guarantee any improvement in the average reasoning level, iii) there exist significative differences according to classroom size and duration of degree.

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  • Virtudes Alba-Fernández & Pablo Brañas-Garza & Francisca Jiménez-Jiménez & Javier Rodero-Cosano, 2004. "Communication, coordination and competition in the beauty contest game: Eleven classroom experiments," IESA Working Papers Series 0416, Institute for Social Syudies of Andalusia - Higher Council for Scientific Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:esa:iesawp:0416

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    2. Virtudes Alba-Fernández & Pablo Brañas-Garza & Francisca Jiménez-Jiménez & Javier Rodero-Cosano, 2006. "Teaching Nash Equilibrium and Dominance: A Classroom Experiment on the Beauty Contest," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(3), pages 305-322, July.
    3. Duffy, John & Nagel, Rosemarie, 1997. "On the Robustness of Behaviour in Experimental "Beauty Contest" Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(445), pages 1684-1700, November.
    4. Martin G. Kocher & Matthias Sutter, 2005. "The Decision Maker Matters: Individual Versus Group Behaviour in Experimental Beauty-Contest Games," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 200-223, January.
    5. Ho, Teck-Hua & Camerer, Colin & Weigelt, Keith, 1998. "Iterated Dominance and Iterated Best Response in Experimental "p-Beauty Contests."," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(4), pages 947-969, September.
    6. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-1326, December.
    7. Weber, Roberto & Camerer, Colin F. & Knez, Marc, 1996. "The Illusion of Leadership," Working Papers 992, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
    8. Rapoport, Amnon & Amaldoss, Wilfred, 2000. "Mixed strategies and iterative elimination of strongly dominated strategies: an experimental investigation of states of knowledge," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 483-521, August.
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    More about this item


    Beauty Contest Games; Experiments; Communication; Coordination; Competition; Meta-analysis;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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