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On Replication and Perturbation of the McKelvey and Palfrey Centipede Game Experiment

Replication in Experimental Economics

ISBN: 978-1-78560-351-8, eISBN: 978-1-78560-350-1

ISSN: 0193-2306

Publication date: 13 October 2015


This study first replicates, then perturbs, the centipede game as implemented by McKelvey and Palfrey (1992). It is thus both a replication study and an original research study. We use controlled laboratory experiments, with computer interfaces for each treatment, anonymous round-robin matching among the subjects across rounds, multiple (10) rounds within each treatment, and incremental changes between adjacent treatments allowing for an assessment of effects at the margin of different game configurations. We find unraveling to the subgame perfect equilibrium somewhat faster than did McKelvey and Palfrey (1992), when using their exact design. Perturbations to that design show that setting non-taker payoffs to zero induces earlier unraveling, as does the use of higher stakes (as in Murphy, Rapoport, and Parco (2006), and Rapoport, Stein, Parco, and Nicholas (2003), respectively). Other, subsequent perturbations show: that there is at most a subtle effect associated with using a 10-second timer with a default move, relative to untimed active moves; and that clock format versus tree format has a minimal effect in common information, unchanging payoff-parameterization environments. We verify the robustness of some key past findings in real-time games. We also explore in a common information environment, the effect of design features previously used in independent private values settings; here we find new evidence that features which might modulate information acquisition and/or processing in an independent private values setting may not restrict behavior in a common information setting.



Cox, J.C. and James, D. (2015), "On Replication and Perturbation of the McKelvey and Palfrey Centipede Game Experiment", Replication in Experimental Economics (Research in Experimental Economics, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 53-94.



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