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A Notion of Prominence for Games with Natural-Language Labels

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  • Alessandro Sontuoso

    () (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Sudeep Bhatia

Abstract

We study games with natural-language labels (i.e., strategic problems where options are denoted by words), for which we propose and test a measurable characterization of prominence. We assume that – ceteris paribus – players find particularly prominent those strategies that are denoted by labels frequently used in everyday language: to operationalize this assumption, we suggest that the prominence of a strategy-label is correlated with its frequency of occurrence in large text corpora. In order to test for the strategic use of word frequency, we consider experimental games with different incentive structures (such as incentives to and not to coordinate), as well as subjects from different cultural/linguistic backgrounds. We find that frequently-mentioned labels are more (less) likely to be selected when there are incentives to match (mismatch) others. Furthermore, varying one’s knowledge of the others’ cultural background significantly affects one’s reliance on word frequency. Overall, our studies suggest that individuals select strategies that fulfill our characterization of prominence in a (boundedly) rational manner.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Sontuoso & Sudeep Bhatia, 2017. "A Notion of Prominence for Games with Natural-Language Labels," PPE Working Papers 0009, Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised Nov 2018.
  • Handle: RePEc:ppc:wpaper:0009
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    File URL: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/ppe-repec/ppc/wpaper/0009.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Vincent P. Crawford & Uri Gneezy & Yuval Rottenstreich, 2008. "The Power of Focal Points Is Limited: Even Minute Payoff Asymmetry May Yield Large Coordination Failures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1443-1458, September.
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    5. Nicholas Bardsley & Judith Mehta & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 2010. "Explaining Focal Points: Cognitive Hierarchy Theory "versus" Team Reasoning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(543), pages 40-79, March.
    6. Shaun Hargreaves Heap & David Rojo Arjona & Robert Sugden, 2014. "How Portable Is Level‐0 Behavior? A Test of Level‐k Theory in Games With Non‐Neutral Frames," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(3), pages 1133-1151, May.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    focal points; salience; coordination; hide-and-seek; level-k;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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