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Overcoming coordination failure in games with focal points: An experimental investigation

Research output: Working paper

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Abstract

Focal points (Schelling, 1960) have shown limitations as coordination devices in
games with conflict, such as the battle of the sexes games. We experimentally test whether an increase in their salience can counteract the negative impact of conflict on coordination. The intuition is that, in the presence of conflict, the solution to the coordination dilemma offered by the focal point loses importance. Increasing its salience increases its relevance and therefore coordination success. Our results provide strong support for this conjecture. Furthermore, when games feature outcomes with different degrees of payoffs’ inequality (i.e. the difference of players’ payoffs) and efficiency (i.e. the sum of players’ payoffs), increasing salience does not lead to an obvious increase in coordination, unless the salience of the focal point is maximal.