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Published papers

Gender differences in cooperation with group membership

Abstract: We study experimentally how males and females differ in the way same-gender peers observing their action affects their social behavior. In our experiment, people play a Prisoner’s Dilemma game with a partisan audience watching the choice. Two groups participated in each session; these groups could be both all-male, both all-female, or one all-male and one all-female. Groups were separated into two rooms. Each person in the group played the game once with an audience of the same group and once with audience of the other group. Behavior is significantly affected by the interaction of gender and place: males cooperate substantially less often when observed by their peer group, while females cooperate substantially more often. We discuss a possible explanation for this pattern: Males and females wish to signal their in-group peers, but males wish to signal their formidability and females wish to signal their cooperativeness.

Experience and insight in the Race game

Abstract:    We study experimentally how subjects learn to plan ahead when they make sequential

decisions. The task is the Race game. This game is played on a finite set of m possible positions occupied by a marker, which is initially in the first position. Two players alternate in the role of mover, and each one can move the marker forward by 1, 2 . . . , k places. The player who puts the marker in the final position wins. Learning follows a similar pattern for all subjects. The experience of losses in early rounds induces them to switch the mode of analysis to backward analysis, which proceeds from the final position. The game has a simple dominant strategy, so we can calculate the frequency of errors made by subjects in each of the positions. The hypothesis that players follow a backward analysis gives precise predictions on the pattern of errors: for example that errors are more frequent, the further the position is from the end.

    The experiment demonstrates that individuals are able to learn effective planning for future distant rewards, with a procedure of backward analysis. Their learning process may appear a pure insight, but is derived from evaluation of experience. . Subjects are also able to transfer the knowledge they get from playing one game to a related game.