I am an Assistant Professor of Economics at Indiana University.Department of Economics
100 S Woodlawn Ave
Bloomington, IN 47405
A common assumption in game theory is that players concentrate on one game at a time. However, in everyday life, we play many games and make many decisions at the same time, and, thus, we have to decide how best to divide our limited attention across these settings. In this paper we ask how players solve this attention-allocation problem and how their decision affects the way players behave in any given game when that game is viewed in isolation. We find that the attention of players is attracted to particular features of the games they play: the maximum payoff in the game, the minimum payoff, the degree of inequality in the game’s payoff, whether the game has zero payoffs, the complexity of the game, and the type of game being played. Moreover, how much attention a subject gives to a particular game depends on the other game that he or she is simultaneously attending to.
We experimentally examine the efficacy of a novel pre-play institution introduced by Calcagno et al. (2014) in a well-known coordination game—the minimum-effort game—in which coordination failures are a robust and persistent phenomenon. This new institution allows agents to communicate while incrementally committing to their words, leading to a sharp theoretical prediction: the efficient outcome is uniquely selected in the extended coordination game. Commitment-enhanced communication significantly increases subjects’ payoffs, and achieves efficiency levels considerably higher than non-binding communication. We document that commitment alters communication, and that subjects behave in a forward-thinking and myopically suboptimal manner at the beginning of their interaction and then best respond as the deadline looms.
The paper introduces communication as a strategic choice in a regime change coordination game with incomplete information. Communication makes agents more aggressive and they take on the regime more often than they would without communicating. Moreover, the agents attack the regime even more than they would if they acted based on their combined information. Richer the massage space more coordinated the attacks are with less unsuccessful attempts. The effect of communication on welfare is two-fold: (i) it reduces one sided attempts on the regime, reducing wasted cost; (2) it increases the rate of coordinated attacks. The experimental results show that communication does reduce misscoordination, however, the subjects are not strategic with their messages and they miss out on the opportunity to increase their welfare by being more aggressive as predicted by the theory. This result highlights how the effects of communication are different in the environments with incomplete information, in contrast with the overwhelming experimental evidence that shows that communication is beneficial in coordination games with complete information.
We investigate history dependent stopping behavior and identify factors that motivate people in non-monetary environments. In the context of chess games, we find that the history of wins/losses is an indicator of further participation. In particular, we find that there are two types of people: those who get discouraged by a loss and stop playing; and others, who get encouraged by a loss and keep playing until a win. We find that an individual's type is time-invariant over years. We propose a behavioral dynamic choice model where enjoyment from the next game is directly affected by the outcome of the previous game. We structurally estimate this time non-separable preference model and conduct counterfactuals to meet several objectives. In an environment where practice improves overall outcomes, type individualized incentives can improve welfare. We find that, in the context of chess games, adjusted incentives can increase the length of play.
We extend the model of costly information acquisition to the case where a decision maker is able to affect his own incentives to pay attention via an ex-ante redistribution of payoffs across states. We use this framework to derive a novel method to elicit the level and the cost of attention solely from observing the choices of payoff redistribution. While existing work in this literature typically involves enriched datasets (e.g., mouse and eye tracking, response times, stochastic choice data etc.) our method requires only standard choice data. We run an experiment and estimate the level and the cost of attention using our elicitation technique.
The quality of our decisions is often determined by how much attention we allocate to them. However, when time is scare we need to plan how to allocate our attention across the various decision problems we face before we actually attempt to solve them. If we plan poorly, we may ultimately make decisions poorly. In this paper, we use eye tracking to investigate how people make attention-allocation decisions. We find, in general, that decision-makers are not very good at estimating how long they need to attend to a problem, at least when facing a set of simple strategic decision problems or games. Such poor calibration between planned and actual attention has an impact both on the decisions people make and the payoffs they receive. Ironically, one cannot make unambiguous welfare predictions since some problems are best solved quickly since over thinking may be welfare decreasing, while for others, the opposite is true. Therefore, to be successful decision makers must learn which decisions do and do not require effortful deliberation.
We study the interaction of two well-known behavioral norms – truth-telling and fairness. Experimental findings collectively suggest how in isolation, each of these phenomena emerge in spite of what rational models of homo economicus might predict. But how do they complement each other? To address this question, we construct a simple modification of the ultimatum game in which the responder has private valuations over the surplus to be shared and can communicate these to the proposer via cheap-talk messages. We take this game to the lab. When provided with minimal yet explicit incentives to lie, we find that play involves not only greater incidence of lying, but also convergence to self-interested play. That is, the outcomes of the ultimatum sub-game largely revert to its unique sub-game perfect equilibrium. Our results speak to a linkage effect between social norms.