Payment schemes in random-termination experimental games

Katerina Sherstyuk, Nori Tarui, Economy, Working Papers

We consider payment schemes in experiments that model infinite-horizon games by using random termination. We compare paying subjects cumulatively for all periods of the game; with paying subjects for the last period only; with paying for one of the periods, chosen randomly. Theoretically, assuming expected utility maximization and risk neutrality, both the cumulative and the last period payment schemes induce preferences that are equivalent to maximizing the discounted sum of utilities. The last-period payment is also robust under different attitudes towards risk. In comparison, paying subjects for one of the periods chosen randomly creates a present-period bias. Experimentally, we find that the cumulative payment appears the best in inducing long-sighted behavior.

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