June 21, 2011

Individual Decision Making Experiment

Participated in an experiment today. The aim was to guess what order someone else would put a series of three objects in. I thought it was similar to the game that I called “sheeple” but apparently that’s a different game now, and I can find no trace of the meaning I thought it had.

You got paid according to six (or eight) scenarios that you answered the questions on:
1. Order: 1st 2nd 3rd. roll a d3. Compare your Xth choice with someone else’s Xth choice: if they match you get £20, if they don’t you get nothing.
2. Weight: put an amount of money on each of the three choices. If a randomly chosen person chose A first, you get the amount you put on A.
3. You have a ticket that pays £20 if a random person chose A (or B) as their top choice. How much money would you sell such a ticket for?
4. 10 random people are chosen. Exactly how many do you think put each choice first? £20 if you are exactly right, else nothing.
5. Assign probabilities to the choices where the probability is the chance you think someone else would put that choice top. Roll 1d3 and spin a coin, then:
a. If heads, the choice corresponding to the number is compared with someone else’s top choice. If they match, you get £20.
b. If tails, the corresponding % chance of winning £20, else nothing.
6. You have a ticket that pays £20 if a random person chose A (or B) as their top choice. For what % of winning £20 would you exchange your ticket for?

There were 67 questions on 4 different sets of three: (cat, dog, rabbit), (red, green, blue), (bus, car, bicycle), (ruby, diamond, emerald). The words were accompanied with pictures that severely affected my order choice.

The payment was done by drawing a question number out of a bag and being paid according to that scenario. Assuming there were all 67 numbers in the bag, you are much more likely to be paid according to scenarios 3 or 6, because there were more of those questions that the others, which occurred once per set.

The first is a straight 1/3 chance (if everything is random) affected by your prediction of the opponent, so you get the best result by putting what you think.

The second lets you put a cap on the minimum amount of money you are willing to accept, and is generally the kindest of the payment methods: you get something with 100% certainty, and you’re best off saying what you think.

Three is also nice: the standard “draw less than you’d accept: get the bet; draw more: get that” deal. This one didn’t (say it had) half of the numbers negative, either, which was always an annoying part with a 50% chance (effectively) of just taking the bet. I was very risk-averse here.

Four was the cruelest: if random, a mere 1/10 chance of being correct. Even if you psychoanalysed correctly random chance would put you off a large number of times. This was much worse than any of the other options.

Five, from my understanding, will reward you equally well if you say the opposite of what you think, or indeed place a random number on everything. I would have thought “Choose a random person’s top choice. You have the percentage you assigned to that choice chance of winning £20, else nothing.” was a better scenario.

Six was like three, but I personally found I was significantly more risk-seeking – I’d be much more gutted if I threw away a winning bet for a sub-50% chance of winning, for example.

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