Journal Article

Words, Deeds, and Lies: Strategic Behaviour in Games with Multiple Signals

John Duffy and Nick Feltovich

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 73, issue 3, pages 669-688
Published in print July 2006 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online July 2006 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI:
Words, Deeds, and Lies: Strategic Behaviour in Games with Multiple Signals

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  • Game Theory and Bargaining Theory


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We report the results of an experiment in which subjects play games against changing opponents. In one treatment, “senders” send “receivers” messages indicating intended actions in that round, and receivers observe senders' previous-round actions (when matched with another receiver). In another treatment, the receiver additionally observes the sender's previous-round message to the previous opponent, enabling him to determine whether the sender had lied. We find that allowing multiple signals leads to better outcomes when signals are aligned (all pointing to the same action), but worse outcomes when signals are crossed. Also, senders' signals tend to be truthful, though the degree of truthfulness depends on the game and treatment, and receivers' behaviour combines elements of pay-off maximization and reciprocity.

Keywords: C73

Journal Article.  9494 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Game Theory and Bargaining Theory

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