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The Perils of Betting to Win: Aspiration and Survival in Jeopardy! Tournament of the Champions

  • Elizabeth Boyle


  • Zur Shapira


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    Behavior in competitive situations requires decision makers to evaluate their own as well as their competitors’ positions. Using data from a realistic competitive risk-taking setting, Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions (TOC), we test whether players choose the strategic best response when making their betting decisions. Analyses show that the percentage of players choosing the strategic best response is very low, a surprising finding because the TOC is contested by the best and most experienced players of the game. We conjecture that performance aspiration and survival targets that guide risk-taking behavior in competitive situations may lead players to select inferior competitive strategies.

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    Paper provided by The Federmann Center for the Study of Rationality, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem in its series Discussion Paper Series with number dp417.

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    Length: 52 pages
    Date of creation: Mar 2006
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:huj:dispap:dp417
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    1. Luís M. B. Cabral, 2003. "R&D Competition when firms Choose Variance," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(1), pages 139-150, 03.
    2. Kahneman, Daniel & Tversky, Amos, 1979. "Prospect Theory: An Analysis of Decision under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 263-91, March.
    3. Metrick, Andrew, 1995. "A Natural Experiment in "Jeopardy!"," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 240-53, March.
    4. Nalebuff, Barry, 1990. "Slot Machines, Zomepirac, Squash, and More," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(1), pages 179-87, Winter.
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