When Focal Points are Out of Focus: A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Come Dine with Me

15 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2013

See all articles by David Schüller

David Schüller

University of Duisburg-Essen - Mercator School of Management

Thorsten Upmann

Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg; Bielefeld University - Department of Business Administration and Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: February 28, 2013

Abstract

We interpret the TV-show Come Dine with Me as a simultaneous non-cooperative game with evaluation levels as strategic variables, and show that it belongs to a class of strategic games which we label mutual evaluations games (MEG). Any MEG possesses a ‘zero equilibrium’ — i. e. a Nash equilibrium where all players evaluate each other with the lowest available scores — as well as numberless ‘non-zero equilibria’. Since the former is an equilibrium in weakly dominant strategies, it may arguably be regarded as a focal point. Yet, in 212 rounds of the German format of Come Dine with Me contestants never got to this focal point, nor did they (with one exception) play any other equilibrium. We provide potential explanations for this off-equilibrium behaviour by considering the impact of social pressure and reputation mechanisms, bandwagon effects, inequality aversion and sequential voting effects.

Keywords: non-cooperative game, aggregative game, Nash-equilibrium, focal point, Come Dine with Me, mutual evaluation game, other regarding preferences, sequential voting effect

JEL Classification: C720, D030

Suggested Citation

Schüller, David and Upmann, Thorsten, When Focal Points are Out of Focus: A Game-Theoretic Analysis of Come Dine with Me (February 28, 2013). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4138. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2228628

David Schüller

University of Duisburg-Essen - Mercator School of Management ( email )

Lotharstraße 65
Duisburg, Nordrhein-Westfalen 47057
Germany

Thorsten Upmann (Contact Author)

Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity at the University of Oldenburg ( email )

Ammerländer Heerstraße 231
Oldenburg, 26129
Germany

Bielefeld University - Department of Business Administration and Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 100131
D-33501 Bielefeld, NRW 33501
Germany

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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