You better play 7: mutual versus common knowledge of advice in a weak-link experiment

Synthese 190 (8):1351-1381 (2013)

Abstract

This paper presents the results of an experiment on mutual versus common knowledge of advice in a two-player weak-link game with random matching. Our experimental subjects play in pairs for thirteen rounds. After a brief learning phase common to all treatments, we vary the knowledge levels associated with external advice given in the form of a suggestion to pick the strategy supporting the payoff-dominant equilibrium. Our results are somewhat surprising and can be summarized as follows: in all our treatments both the choice of the efficiency-inducing action and the percentage of efficient equilibrium play are higher with respect to the control treatment, revealing that even a condition as weak as mutual knowledge of level 1 is sufficient to significantly increase the salience of the efficient equilibrium with respect to the absence of advice. Furthermore, and contrary to our hypothesis, mutual knowledge of level 2 induces, under suitable conditions, successful coordination more frequently than common knowledge

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