Tug-of-War in the Laboratory

24 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2015

See all articles by Cary A. Deck

Cary A. Deck

University of Alabama - Department of Economics, Finance and Legal Studies

Roman M. Sheremeta

Case Western Reserve University

Date Written: September 10, 2015


Tug-of-war is a multi-battle contest often used to describe extended interactions in economics, management, political science, and other disciplines. While there has been some theoretical work, there is scant empirical evidence regarding behavior in a tug-of-war game. To the best of our knowledge, this paper provides the first experimental study of the tug-of-war. The results show notable deviations of behavior from theory. In the first battle of the tug-of-war, subjects exert fewer resources, while in the follow-up battles, they exert more resources than predicted. Also, contrary to the theoretical prediction, resource expenditures tend to increase in the duration of the tug-of-war. Finally, extending the margin necessary to win the tug-of-war causes more discouragement than either a reduction in the prize or greater impatience despite all three having the same expected effect. Potential behavioral explanations for these findings are also discussed.

Keywords: tug-of-war, all-pay auction, multi-stage contest, laboratory experiment

JEL Classification: C91, D72, D74

Suggested Citation

Deck, Cary A. and Sheremeta, Roman M., Tug-of-War in the Laboratory (September 10, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2658795 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2658795

Cary A. Deck (Contact Author)

University of Alabama - Department of Economics, Finance and Legal Studies ( email )

P.O. Box 870244
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

Roman M. Sheremeta

Case Western Reserve University ( email )

10900 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44106
United States

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