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What drives failure to maximize payoffs in the lab? A test of the inequality aversion hypothesis

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  • Nicolas Jacquemet

    () (PSE - Paris School of Economics - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris - PSL - Université Paris sciences et lettres - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - INRAE - Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement, BETA - Bureau d'Économie Théorique et Appliquée - INRA - Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - UL - Université de Lorraine - UNISTRA - Université de Strasbourg)

  • Adam Zylbersztejn

    () (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Abstract

Experiments based on the Beard and Beil (1994) two-player coordination game robustly show that coordination failures arise as a result of two puzzling behaviors: (i) subjects are not willing to rely on others' self-interested maximization, and (ii) self-interested maximization is not ubiquitous. Such behavior is often considered to challenge the relevance of subgame perfectness as an equilibrium selection criterion, since weakly dominated strategies are actually used. We report on new experiments investigating whether inequality in payoffs between players, maintained in most lab implementations of this game, drives such behavior. Our data clearly show that the failure to maximize personal payoffs, as well as the fear that others might act this way, do not stem from inequality aversion. This result is robust to varying the saliency of decisions, repetition-based learning and cultural differences between France and Poland.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicolas Jacquemet & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2014. "What drives failure to maximize payoffs in the lab? A test of the inequality aversion hypothesis," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) halshs-01026080, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:halshs-01026080
    DOI: 10.1007/s10058-014-0162-5
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01026080
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Nobuyuki Hanaki & Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2016. "Cognitive ability and the effect of strategic uncertainty," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 81(1), pages 101-121, June.
    2. Jacquemet Nicolas & Zylbersztejn Adam, 2013. "Learning, Words and Actions: Experimental Evidence on Coordination-Improving Information," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 1-33, July.
    3. Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Jason F. Shogren & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2018. "Coordination with communication under oath," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 21(3), pages 627-649, September.
    4. Gueye, Mamadou & Quérou, Nicolas & Soubeyran, Raphael, 2020. "Social preferences and coordination: An experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 173(C), pages 26-54.
    5. Colin F. Camerer & Gideon Nave & Alec Smith, 2019. "Dynamic Unstructured Bargaining with Private Information: Theory, Experiment, and Outcome Prediction via Machine Learning," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 65(4), pages 1867-1890, April.
    6. Vincent Théroude & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2017. "Cooperation in a risky world," Working Papers halshs-01443917, HAL.
    7. Nobuyuki Hanaki & Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2016. "Cognitive ability and the effect of strategic uncertainty," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 81(1), pages 101-121, June.
    8. Nobuyuki Hanaki & Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2016. "Fluid intelligence and cognitive reflection in a strategic environment: evidence from dominance-solvable games," Post-Print hal-01359231, HAL.
    9. Nobuyuki Hanaki & Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2013. "Bounded Rationality and Strategic Uncertainty in a Simple Dominance Solvable Game," Economics Discussion / Working Papers 13-14, The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Coordination Failure; Subgame perfectness; Non-credible threats; Laboratory experiments; Social Preferences; Inequality Aversion;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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