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Social Centipedes: the Impact of Group Identity on Preferences and Reasoning

Using a group identity manipulation we examine the role of social preferences in an experimental one-shot centipede game. Contrary to what social preference theory would predict, we fnd that players continue longer when playing with outgroup members. The explanation we provide for this result rests on two observations: (i) players should only stop if they are suffciently conident that their partner will stop at the next node, given the exponentially-increasing payoffs in the game, and (ii) players are more likely to have this degree of certainty if they are matched with someone from the same group, whom they view as similar to themselves and thus predictable. We find strong statistical support for this argument. We conclude that group identity not only impacts a player's utility function, as identifed in earlier research, but also affects her reasoning about her partner's behavior.

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File URL: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/Papers.Econ/RePEc/vie/viennp/vie1305.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Vienna, Department of Economics in its series Vienna Economics Papers with number 1305.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Handle: RePEc:vie:viennp:1305
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.univie.ac.at/vwl

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  1. Yan Chen & Sherry Xin Li, 2009. "Group Identity and Social Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 431-57, March.
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  12. Engelmann, Dirk & Strobel, Martin, 2012. "Deconstruction and reconstruction of an anomaly," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 678-689.
  13. Charness, Gary & Rabin, Matthew, 2001. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4qz9k8vg, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  14. Dale O. Stahl & Paul W. Wilson, 2010. "On Players' Models of Other Players: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 542, David K. Levine.
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  19. Viscusi, W Kip, 1989. " Prospective Reference Theory: Toward an Explanation of the Paradoxes," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(3), pages 235-63, September.
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  25. Richard Mckelvey & Thomas Palfrey, 1998. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Extensive Form Games," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 9-41, June.
  26. Gerber, Anke & Wichardt, Philipp C., 2010. "Iterated reasoning and welfare-enhancing instruments in the centipede game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 74(1-2), pages 123-136, May.
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  28. Rapoport, Amnon & Stein, William E. & Parco, James E. & Nicholas, Thomas E., 2003. "Equilibrium play and adaptive learning in a three-person centipede game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 239-265, May.
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