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Signaling Without Common Prior: An Experiment


  • Michalis Drouvelis
  • Wieland Muller
  • Alex Possajennikov


The common prior assumption is pervasive in game-theoretic models with incomplete information. This paper investigates experimentally the importance of inducing a common prior in a two-person signaling game. For a specific probability distribution of the sender's type, the long-run behavior without an induced common prior is shown to be different from the behavior when a common prior is induced, while for other distributions behavior is similar under both regimes. We also present a learning model that allows players to learn about the other players' strategies and the prior distribution of the sender's type. We show that this learning model accurately accounts for all main features of the data.

Suggested Citation

  • Michalis Drouvelis & Wieland Muller & Alex Possajennikov, 2009. "Signaling Without Common Prior: An Experiment," Discussion Papers 09/08, Department of Economics, University of York.
  • Handle: RePEc:yor:yorken:09/08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dekel, Eddie & Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K., 2004. "Learning to play Bayesian games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 282-303, February.
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    3. Christopher M. Anderson & Colin F. Camerer, 2000. "Experience-weighted attraction learning in sender-receiver signaling games," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 16(3), pages 689-718.
    4. Brandts, Jordi & Holt, Charles A, 1993. "Adjustment Patterns and Equilibrium Selection in Experimental Signaling Games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 22(3), pages 279-302.
    5. Oechssler, Jorg & Schipper, Burkhard, 2003. "Can you guess the game you are playing?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 137-152, April.
    6. Guth, Werner & Ivanova-Stenzel, Radosveta, 2003. "Asymmetric auction experiments with(out) commonly known beliefs," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 195-199, August.
    7. Costa-Gomes, Miguel & Crawford, Vincent P & Broseta, Bruno, 2001. "Cognition and Behavior in Normal-Form Games: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1193-1235, September.
    8. Banks Jeffrey & Camerer Colin & Porter David, 1994. "An Experimental Analysis of Nash Refinements in Signaling Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(1), pages 1-31, January.
    9. Oechssler, Jorg & Schipper, Burkhard, 2003. "Can you guess the game you are playing?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 137-152, April.
    10. David J. Cooper & Susan Garvin & John H. Kagel, 1997. "Signalling and Adaptive Learning in an Entry Limit Pricing Game," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 28(4), pages 662-683, Winter.
    11. Brandts, Jordi & Holt, Charles A, 1992. "An Experimental Test of Equilibrium Dominance in Signaling Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(5), pages 1350-1365, December.
    12. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brandts, Jordi & Yao, Lan, 2010. "Ambiguous Information and Market Entry: An Experimental Study," MPRA Paper 25276, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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