Procedure Update – Tom

Since last week was a bit of a tangent, I want to give an update about the procedure for my study in this blog post. I’ve finally narrowed it down to two different game theory scenarios I might use for my study. In truth, it is actually just two different forms of the ultimatum game. I have discussed the ultimatum game before on my blog, but it never hurts to have a refresher. How it works is one of the two players has been given a dollar and gets to offer a way to split it. The other player can either accept or reject the proposed split. If they accept, the dollar gets divided in the proposed way. If they reject, then nobody gets anything. It is a simple game, but when played out has many small physiological subtitles.

The other form of the ultimatum game takes it one more step. The second player can now propose a counter offer rather than rejecting it. The one catch is that instead of splitting a dollar, the second player splits seventy-five cents. Then, the first player receives this new offer and can either accept or reject just as before. I like the ultimatum game over many other classic game theory scenarios because it forces the player to react to something. Otherwise it would lead to most participants never deviating from their strategy. And if people don’t have to make multiple decisions, it becomes impossible to see how implicit bias might affect their decisions.

Now there is one other major part that I need to decide as I continue to improve my procedure, and that is how to get students to be participants. One of the easiest ways would be to simply get a teacher’s permission to borrow their class for a day and administer it then. The other option is to administer it from a classroom during my frees and evening study hall period. However, then I need to deal with the issue of incentivizing students, as I haven’t seen much success through the common candy method other people use. One idea is for people to receive money based on how they do during each scenario. However, if that was the case I would have to make it more of a lottery for who gets it, as I could not give it to each participant. If anyone else has any other ideas please post them in the comments as I am interested in other possibilities.

Thanks for reading.


For those who want to read some of the studies I have been using:

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6 thoughts on “Procedure Update – Tom

  1. cynthiaruan

    This reminds me of a British game show called Golden balls. The rule is pretty much the same as your game theory scenario. You can either choose split or steal. if both participants choose split, they split the money; if one chooses split and the other steal, the person who steals gets all the money; and if both chooses to steal, no one gets it. Many people would make up elaborate sad stories to gain sympathy from the opponent, but then betray them at the last minute by choosing steal instead of split as they promised. In one episode, a participant went a different way. He said that he will definitely choose steal no matter what his opponent chooses, even though his opponent tries to convince him that he would choose split no matter what. As it turns out, however, both people chose split. I think it’s a pretty interesting story that says a lot about the nature of humanity.

    1. tkbarnet Post author

      That game sounds a lot more like the prisoner’s dilemma, in which players have a chance to either cooperate or betray. Though that too has fascinating psychological implications.


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