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Beautiful Game TheoryHow Soccer Can Help Economics$
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Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691144023

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691144023.001.0001

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Vernon Smith Meets Messi in the Laboratory

Vernon Smith Meets Messi in the Laboratory

(p.31) 2 Vernon Smith Meets Messi in the Laboratory
Beautiful Game Theory

Ignacio Palacios-Huerta

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on zero-sum experimental games where players are predicted to choose probability mixtures. Whereas perfectively competitive games do not represent the entire universe of strategic games involving mixed strategies, they are considered a “vital cornerstone”and can be regarded as the branch of game theory with the most solid theoretical foundation. Soccer has three unique features that make it especially suitable for this purpose: (1) professional soccer players face a simple strategic interaction that is governed by very detailed rules: a penalty kick; (2) the formal structure of this interaction can be reproduced in the laboratory; and (3) when professional soccer players from European leagues play this game in the field, their behavior is consistent with the equilibrium predictions of the theory. These three distinct characteristics allow us to study whether the skills and heuristics that players may have developed in the field can be transferred to the laboratory, and hence whether laboratory findings are reliable for predicting field behavior in these strategic situations.

Keywords:   soccer, game theory, zero-sum experimental games, professional soccer players, probability mixtures, penalty kick

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