Impatience, Risk Propensity and Rationality in Timing Games

Moojan GhafurianPenn State University
David ReitterPenn State University

Abstract

Games of timing reflect dynamic decision-making under uncertainty, as it takes place in many real-world situations, including health care, safety and security. Rather than making discrete decisions, participants choose one or more points in time that determine the outcome. We study individual's biases and characteristics in such games of timing. We examine risk propensity as a personal preference affecting timing decisions and document a bias, impatience. Experiment 1 analyzes people's strategy in timing games in relation to a rational model. Contrasting two cognitive models suggests that individuals apply risk propensity to the probability distributions underlying short games and when unfamiliar with the situation, but that, over time, impatience takes over as a linear adjustment. In Experiment 2, impatient participants risk their incentive payment in order to play early, even if they receive no advantage from doing so.

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