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The emergence of salience: An experimental investigation

  • Federica Alberti

    (University of Kent)

  • Shaun Hargreaves Heap

    (School of Economics and CBESS, University of East Anglia)

  • Robert Sugden

    (School of Economics and CBESS, University of East Anglia)

In this experiment, individuals recurrently play coordination games that are similar to, but not identical with, one another. Initially, subjects are no more successful than if they had acted at random, but coordination rates gradually increase to levels similar to those found in one-shot games with “obvious†focal points. Subjects seem to coordinate by choosing actions that are similar to ones that have previously been successful. This leads to the emergence of different similarity conventions – interpretable as different conceptions of salience – in different groups of players. We present a simple model of learning which organizes our main findings.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. in its series Working Paper series, University of East Anglia, Centre for Behavioural and Experimental Social Science (CBESS) with number 11-01.

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Date of creation: 01 Jan 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uea:wcbess:11-01
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  1. Gilboa, Itzhak & Schmeidler, David, 1995. "Case-Based Decision Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 605-39, August.
  2. Nicholas Bardsley & Judith Mehta & Chris Starmer & Robert Sugden, 2008. "Explaining Focal Points: Cognitive Hierarchy Theory versus Team Reasoning," Discussion Papers 2008-17, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. 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.
  4. Shaun Hargreaves-Heap & Yanis Varoufakis, 2002. "Some Experimental Evidence On The Evolution Of Discrimination, Co--Operation And Perceptions Of Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(481), pages 679-703, July.
  5. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1988. "Similarity and decision-making under risk (is there a utility theory resolution to the Allais paradox?)," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 145-153, October.
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