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Individual and Group Decisions in the Centipede Game: Are Groups More “Rational” Players?

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  • Gary Bornstein

    ()

  • Tamar Kugler

    ()

  • Anthony Ziegelmeyer

    ()

Abstract

Two experiments compared the Centipede game played either by 2 individuals or by 2 (3-person) groups. The 2 competitors alternate in deciding whether to take the larger portion of an increasing (or constant) pile of money, and as soon as one “takes” the game ends. Assuming that both sides are concerned only with maximizing their own payoffs (and that this is common knowledge), the game theoretic solution, derived by backward induction, is for the first mover to exit the game at the first decision node. Both experiments found that although neither individuals nor groups fully complied with this solution, groups did exit the game significantly earlier than individuals. The study of experimental games has uncovered many instances in which individuals deviate systematically from the game theoretic solution. This study is in accord with other recent experiments in suggesting that game theory may provide a better description of group behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Gary Bornstein & Tamar Kugler & Anthony Ziegelmeyer, 2002. "Individual and Group Decisions in the Centipede Game: Are Groups More “Rational” Players?," Discussion Paper Series dp298, The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
  • Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp298
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    File URL: http://ratio.huji.ac.il/sites/default/files/publications/dp298.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. McKelvey, Richard D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1992. "An Experimental Study of the Centipede Game," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(4), pages 803-836, July.
    2. Gary Bornstein & Ilan Yaniv, 1998. "Individual and Group Behavior in the Ultimatum Game: Are Groups More “Rational” Players?," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 101-108, June.
    3. Fey, Mark & McKelvey, Richard D & Palfrey, Thomas R, 1996. "An Experimental Study of Constant-Sum Centipede Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 25(3), pages 269-287.
    4. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
    5. Rosenthal, Robert W., 1981. "Games of perfect information, predatory pricing and the chain-store paradox," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 92-100, August.
    6. Robert, Christopher & Carnevale, Peter J., 1997. "Group Choice in Ultimatum Bargaining," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 256-279, November.
    7. Cason, Timothy N & Mui, Vai-Lam, 1997. "A Laboratory Study of Group Polarisation in the Team Dictator Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 107(444), pages 1465-1483, September.
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