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Testing the rationality assumption using a design difference in the TV game show 'Jeopardy'


  • Sjögren Lindquist, Gabriella

    () (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University)

  • Säve-Söderbergh, Jenny

    () (Swedish Institute for Social Research, Stockholm University)


This paper empirically investigates the rationality assumption commonly applied in economic modeling by exploiting a design difference in the game-show Jeopardy between the US and Sweden. In particular we address the assumption of individuals’ capabilities to process complex mathematical problems to find optimal strategies. The vital difference is that US contestants are given explicit information before they act, while Swedish contestants individually need to calculate the same information. Given a rationality assumption of individuals computing optimally, there should be no difference in the strategies used. However, in contrast to the rational and focal bidding behaviors found in the US, the Swedish players display no optimal behavior. Hence, when facing too complex decisions, individuals abandon optimal strategies.

Suggested Citation

  • Sjögren Lindquist, Gabriella & Säve-Söderbergh, Jenny, 2006. "Testing the rationality assumption using a design difference in the TV game show 'Jeopardy'," Working Paper Series 9/2006, Stockholm University, Swedish Institute for Social Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:sofiwp:2006_009

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Thierry Post & Martijn J. van den Assem & Guido Baltussen & Richard H. Thaler, 2008. "Deal or No Deal? Decision Making under Risk in a Large-Payoff Game Show," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 38-71, March.
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    6. Metrick, Andrew, 1995. "A Natural Experiment in "Jeopardy!"," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 240-253, March.
    7. 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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    12. Cary Deck & Jungmin Lee & Javier Reyes, 2008. "Risk attitudes in large stake gambles: evidence from a game show," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(1), pages 41-52.
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    More about this item


    Rationality; Bounded Rationality; Field Experiments;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty

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