IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

On the Role of Non-equilibrium Focal Points as Coordination Devices

  • Antoni Bosch-Dom�nech


    (Universitat Pompeu Fabra and CREA, Barcelona)

  • Nicolaas J. Vriend


    (Queen Mary, University of London)

Considering a pure coordination game with a large number of equivalent equilibria, we argue, first, that a focal point that is itself not a Nash equilibrium and is Pareto dominated by all Nash equilibria, may attract the players' choices. Second, we argue that such a non-equilibrium focal point may act as an equilibrium selection device that the players use to coordinate on a closely related small subset of Nash equilibria. We present theoretical as well as experimental support for these two new roles of focal points as coordination devices.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance in its series Working Papers with number 621.

in new window

Date of creation: Feb 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:qmw:qmwecw:wp621
Contact details of provider: Postal: London E1 4NS
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7882 5096
Fax: +44 (0) 20 8983 3580
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Teck-Hua Ho & Keith Weigelt, 1996. "Task Complexity, Equilibrium Selection, and Learning: An Experimental Study," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 42(5), pages 659-679, May.
  2. Blume, Andreas & Gneezy, Uri, 2010. "Cognitive forward induction and coordination without common knowledge: An experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 488-511, March.
  3. Crawford, Vincent P. & Iriberri, Nagore, 2005. "Level-k Auctions: Can a Non-Equilibrium Model of Strategic Thinking Explain the Winner's Curse and Overbidding in Private-Value Auctions?," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt12586197, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  4. Blume, Andreas & Gneezy, Uri, 1998. "An Experimental Investigation of Optimal Learning in Coordination Games," Working Papers 98-10, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  5. Alós-Ferrer, Carlos & Kuzmics, Christoph, 2013. "Hidden symmetries and focal points," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(1), pages 226-258.
  6. Crawford, Vincent P & Haller, Hans, 1990. "Learning How to Cooperate: Optimal Play in Repeated Coordination Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 571-95, May.
  7. John C. Harsanyi & Reinhard Selten, 1988. "A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582384, June.
  8. Glenn W. Harrison & John A. List, 2004. "Field Experiments," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 42(4), pages 1009-1055, December.
  9. Nicolas Bardsley & Judith Mehta & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 2006. "The Nature of Salience Revisited: Cognitive Hierarchy Theory versus Team Reasoning," Discussion Papers 2006-17, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  10. Glenn Harrison, 2005. "Field experiments and control," Artefactual Field Experiments 00057, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. Binmore, Ken, et al, 1993. "Focal Points and Bargaining," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 381-409.
  12. Macleod, B. & Brandts, J., 1992. "Equilibrium Selection in Experimental Games with Recommended Play," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 164.92, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  13. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-26, December.
  14. 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.
  15. Christoph Kuzmics & Thomas Palfrey & Brian Rogers, 2012. "Symmetric play in repeated allocation games," Discussion Papers 1551, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  16. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  17. 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, 03.
  18. 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 1443-58, September.
  19. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 1995. "Case-Based Decision Theory," Post-Print hal-00753144, HAL.
  20. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
  21. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:106:y:1991:i:3:p:885-910 is not listed on IDEAS
  22. Dietmar Fehr & Frank Heinemann & Aniol Llorente-Saguer, 2011. "The Power of Sunspots: An Experimental Analysis," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2011-070, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
  23. Maarten Janssen, 2001. "Rationalizing Focal Points," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 119-148, March.
  24. Vincent P. Crawford & Nagore Iriberri, 2007. "Fatal Attraction: Salience, Naivete, and Sophistication in Experimental Hide-and-Seek Games," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000861, UCLA Department of Economics.
  25. Stahl Dale O. & Wilson Paul W., 1995. "On Players' Models of Other Players: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 218-254, July.
  26. Bacharach, Michael & Bernasconi, Michele, 1997. "The Variable Frame Theory of Focal Points: An Experimental Study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 1-45, April.
  27. Mehta, Judith & Starmer, Chris & Sugden, Robert, 1994. "The Nature of Salience: An Experimental Investigation of Pure Coordination Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 658-73, June.
  28. repec:tpr:qjecon:v:119:y:2004:i:3:p:861-898 is not listed on IDEAS
  29. Fryer Roland & Jackson Matthew O., 2008. "A Categorical Model of Cognition and Biased Decision Making," The B.E. Journal of Theoretical Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-44, February.
  30. Binmore, Ken & Samuelson, Larry, 2006. "The evolution of focal points," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 55(1), pages 21-42, April.
  31. Sugden, Robert & Zamarron, Ignacio E., 2006. "Finding the key: The riddle of focal points," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 609-621, October.
  32. Sugden, Robert, 1995. "A Theory of Focal Points," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 533-50, May.
  33. Cooper, Russell, et al, 1990. "Selection Criteria in Coordination Games: Some Experimental Results," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 218-33, March.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:qmw:qmwecw:wp621. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Nick Vriend)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.