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Inducing Absent-Mindedness in the Lab

After years of neglect, Piccione and Rubinstein (1997a) re-examined the problem of imperfect recall and its implications for game theory. They introduced the notion of absent-mindedness through a decision-making problem called the absentminded driver's paradox. This simple game precipitated a vigorous discussion with different researchers having strong opinions about whether the paradox actually exists. Alternative interpretations and varied ways to resolve the paradox were suggested. In the hopes of forwarding this debate, we provide a technique to directly test absentmindedness in the laboratory, even though in the past it has been claimed to be impossible to achieve absent-mindedness in a controlled environment. To accomplish this we rely on a technique called divided attention to impair a subject's recollection of previous choices. Our findings indicate that subjects in the experiment suffer from absent-mindedness while still behaving in a rational manner. Our experimental data for the absent-minded driver’s game shows that a substantial number of subjects demonstrate behavior consistent with the paradox.

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File URL: http://www.bus.lsu.edu/economics/papers/pap06_09.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Louisiana State University in its series Departmental Working Papers with number 2006-09.

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Handle: RePEc:lsu:lsuwpp:2006-09
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  1. Oliver Board, 2003. "The Not-So-Absent-Minded Driver," Economics Series Working Papers 147, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  2. Battigalli, Pierpaolo, 1997. "Dynamic Consistency and Imperfect Recall," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 31-50, July.
  3. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1995. "On the Interpretation of Decision Problems with Imperfect Recall," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 324-324, December.
  4. Piccione, M. & Rubinstein, A., 1996. "The Absent Minded Driver's Paradox: Synthesis and Responses," Papers 39-96, Tel Aviv.
  5. Cooper, David J. & Van Huyck, John B., 2003. "Evidence on the equivalence of the strategic and extensive form representation of games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 110(2), pages 290-308, June.
  6. Hoffman Elizabeth & McCabe Kevin & Shachat Keith & Smith Vernon, 1994. "Preferences, Property Rights, and Anonymity in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 346-380, November.
  7. Gilboa, Itzhak, 1997. "A Comment on the Absent-Minded Driver Paradox," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 25-30, July.
  8. Grove, Adam J. & Halpern, Joseph Y., 1997. "On the Expected Value of Games with Absentmindedness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 51-65, July.
  9. Halpern, Joseph Y., 1997. "On Ambiguities in the Interpretation of Game Trees," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 66-96, July.
  10. Huck, Steffen & Müller, Wieland, 2000. "Absent-minded drivers in the lab: Testing Gilboa's model," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2000,45, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  11. Lipman, Barton L., 1997. "More Absentmindedness," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 97-101, July.
  12. Aumann, Robert J. & Hart, Sergiu & Perry, Motty, 1997. "The Forgetful Passenger," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 117-120, July.
  13. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
  14. James C. Cox & Cary A. Deck, 2005. "On the Nature of Reciprocal Motives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 43(3), pages 623-635, July.
  15. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-122964 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Aumann, Robert J. & Hart, Sergiu & Perry, Motty, 1997. "The Absent-Minded Driver," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 20(1), pages 102-116, July.
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