Advertisement

Theory and Decision

, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 519–537 | Cite as

Signaling strength? An analysis of decision making in The Weakest Link

  • Marco A. Haan
  • Bart Los
  • Yohanes E. Riyanto
Open Access
Article
  • 415 Downloads

Abstract

We analyze contestants’ behavior in the game show “The Weakest Link”. We focus on banking decisions, where a contestant chooses to secure an amount of money for the eventual winner, or to risk it on a general knowledge question. We find that contestants do not use the banking strategy that maximizes total expected prize money. Average earnings could be at least 17% higher. Our results suggest that contestants are not overconfident, but do try to convince other contestants that their ability is higher than it really is, in order to increase chances of winning the prize. We argue that this mechanism may also be applicable to other situations that are of economic interest.

Keywords

Game show Field experiments Signaling 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank Martin van Geest for excellent research assistance, Joyce Jacobsen, Peter Kooreman, Bert Schoonbeek, Adriaan Soetevent, Yossi Spiegel, and Linda Toolsema for useful comments, and seminar and conference participants at National University of Singapore, the University of Groningen, the Catholic University Leuven, the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Maastricht University, the NAKE day, the ASSET meeting, and the ESA International Meeting for helpful discussion.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

References

  1. Antonovics K., Arcidiacono P., Walsh R. (2005) Games and discrimination: Lessons from the weakest link. Journal of Human Resources 40(4): 918–947Google Scholar
  2. Beetsma R. M. W. J., Schotman P. C. (2001) Measuring risk attitudes in a natural experiment: Data from the television game show Lingo. Economic Journal 111(474): 821–848CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bénabou R., Tirole J. (2002) Self-confidence and personal motivation. Quarterly Journal of Economics 117(3): 871–916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berk J. B., Hughson E., Vandezande K. (1996) The price is right, but are the bids? An investigation of rational decision theory. American Economic Review 86(4): 954–970Google Scholar
  5. Camerer C., Lovallo D. (1999) Overconfidence and excess entry: An experimental approach. American Economic Review 89(1): 306–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Février P., Linnemer L. (2006) Equilibrium selection: Payoff or risk dominance? The case of the weakest link. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 60(2): 164–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gertner R. (1993) Game shows and economic behavior: Risk-taking on card sharks. Quarterly Journal of Economics 108(2): 507–521CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Haan M. A., Los B., Riyanto Y. E. (2008) Harmful monitoring. Mimeo, University of Groningen, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  9. Levitt S. (2004) Testing theories of discrimination: Evidence from weakest link. Journal of Law and Economics 47(2): 431–452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mailath G. J. (1987) Incentive compatibility in signaling games with a continuum of types. Econometrica 55(6): 1349–1365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Metrick A. (1995) A natural experiment in Jeopardy!. American Economic Review 85(1): 240–253Google Scholar
  12. Nöth M., Weber M. (2003) Information aggregation with random ordering: Cascades and overconfidence. Economic Journal 113(1): 166–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Economics and BusinessUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Division of Economics, School of Humanities and Social SciencesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations