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Mixed strategies in an unprofitable game: an experiment


  • Charles Noussair
  • Marc Willinger


We report experimental data from a two-player, two-action unprofitable game with an unique mixed strategy equilibrium. Our design allows subjects to explicitly choose probability distributions over actions. Patterns of play differ greatly from the mixed strategy equilibrium and the maxmin strategy profiles, both when measured as subjects’ choices of probability distributions, and as the resulting actions played. The Quantal Response Equilibrium (QRE) concept is a good predictor of the subjects' average choices.

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  • Charles Noussair & Marc Willinger, 2011. "Mixed strategies in an unprofitable game: an experiment," Working Papers 11-19, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Nov 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:lam:wpaper:11-19

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McKelvey, Richard D. & Palfrey, Thomas R. & Weber, Roberto A., 2000. "The effects of payoff magnitude and heterogeneity on behavior in 2 x 2 games with unique mixed strategy equilibria," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 42(4), pages 523-548, August.
    2. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta & Oscar Volij, 2008. "Experientia Docet: Professionals Play Minimax in Laboratory Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 71-115, January.
    3. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
    4. Mookherjee, Dilip & Sopher, Barry, 1997. "Learning and Decision Costs in Experimental Constant Sum Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 97-132, April.
    5. Mark Walker & John Wooders, 2001. "Minimax Play at Wimbledon," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1521-1538, December.
    6. Ignacio Palacios-Huerta, 2003. "Professionals Play Minimax," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(2), pages 395-415.
    7. Morgan, John & Sefton, Martin, 2002. "An Experimental Investigation of Unprofitable Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 123-146, July.
    8. Ochs Jack, 1995. "Games with Unique, Mixed Strategy Equilibria: An Experimental Study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 202-217, July.
    9. Shachat, Jason M., 2002. "Mixed Strategy Play and the Minimax Hypothesis," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 104(1), pages 189-226, May.
    10. Rapoport, Amnon & Boebel, Richard B., 1992. "Mixed strategies in strictly competitive games: A further test of the minimax hypothesis," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 261-283, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shachat, Jason & Swarthout, J. Todd & Wei, Lijia, 2015. "A Hidden Markov Model For The Detection Of Pure And Mixed Strategy Play In Games," Econometric Theory, Cambridge University Press, vol. 31(04), pages 729-752, August.

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