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The weakest link : a field experiment in rational decision making

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  • Haan, Marco

    (Groningen University)

Abstract

We analyze the BBC TV game show “The Weakest Link”, using data from 77 episodes, covering 13,380 questions. We focus on the banking decision, where a contestant chooses to secure an amount of money for the eventual winner, or to risk it on a general knowledge question. In the latter case, should he answer correctly, the amount at stake increases exponentially. We show that banking decisions are not rational: a crude rule of thumb performs substantially better than the contestants’ strategies. Yet, at least to some extent, contestants do take into account their own ability and the fact that questions are progressively more difficult.

Suggested Citation

  • Haan, Marco, 2002. "The weakest link : a field experiment in rational decision making," Research Report 02F20, University of Groningen, Research Institute SOM (Systems, Organisations and Management).
  • Handle: RePEc:gro:rugsom:02f20
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    File URL: http://irs.ub.rug.nl/ppn/239686624
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Haan, Marco & Kooreman, Peter, 2002. "Free riding and the provision of candy bars," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 277-291, February.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Beetsma, Roel M W J & Schotman, Peter C, 2001. "Measuring Risk Attitudes in a Natural Experiment: Data from the Television Game Show Lingo," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 821-848, October.
    5. Bennett, Randall W. & Hickman, Kent A., 1993. "Rationality and the 'price is right'," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 99-105, May.
    6. Rabin, Matthew, 1993. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1281-1302, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fevrier, Philippe & Linnemer, Laurent, 2006. "Equilibrium selection: Payoff or risk dominance?: The case of the "weakest link"," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 164-181, June.
    2. Levitt, Steven D, 2004. "Testing Theories of Discrimination: Evidence from Weakest Link," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 47(2), pages 431-452, October.
    3. María Paz Espinosa & Javier Gardeazabal, 2013. "Do Students Behave Rationally in Multiple Choice Tests? Evidence from a Field Experiment," Journal of Economics and Management, College of Business, Feng Chia University, Taiwan, vol. 9(2), pages 107-135, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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