Philip Brookins, Dmitry Ryvkin, and Andrew Smyth. 3/8/2021. “Indefinitely repeated contests: An experimental study.” Experimental Economics . Publisher's VersionAbstract
We experimentally explore indefinitely repeated contests. Theory predicts more cooperation, in the form of lower expenditures, in indefinitely repeated contests with a longer expected time horizon. Our data support this prediction, although this result attenuates with contest experience. Theory also predicts more cooperation in indefinitely repeated contests compared to finitely repeated contests of the same expected length, and we find empirical support for this. Finally, theory predicts no difference in cooperation across indefinitely repeated winner-take-all and proportional-prize contests, yet we find evidence of less cooperation in the latter, though only in longer treatments with more contests played. Our paper extends the experimental literature on indefinitely repeated games to contests and, more generally, contributes to an infant empirical literature on behavior in indefinitely repeated games with “large” strategy spaces.
Philip Brookins and Paan Jindapon. 2/20/2021. “Risk preference heterogeneity in group contests.” Journal of Mathematical Economics. Publisher's VersionAbstract
We analyze the first model of a group contest with players that are heterogeneous in their risk preferences. In our model, individuals’ preferences are represented by a utility function exhibiting a generalized form of constant absolute risk aversion, allowing us to consider any combination of risk-averse, risk-neutral, and risk-loving players. We begin by proving equilibrium existence and uniqueness under both linear and convex investment costs. Then, we explore how the sorting of a compatible set of players by their risk attitudes into competing groups affects aggregate investment. With linear costs, a balanced sorting (i.e., minimizing the variance in risk attitudes across groups) always produces an aggregate investment level that is at least as high as an unbalanced sorting (i.e., maximizing the variance in risk attitudes across groups). Under convex costs, however, identifying which sorting is optimal is more nuanced and depends on preference and cost parameters.

Optimal Prize Structure

One of the strongest design parameters for contests is the prize structure, i.e., the number and level of prizes. In developing best practices, we are working to provide guidance to practitioners to optimize the use of prize funds. Optimal selection of prizes is a complex task. For tasks with diminishing returns to effort (the 100th hour of work improves the output less than the 1st hour),... Read more about Optimal Prize Structure


Sponsored by NASA, the goal of this  2013 series of challenges was to develop an iPad application for astronauts to use on the International Space Station (ISS) to track food intake. Astronauts on ISS have busy daily schedules and needed a simple way to record what they eat and drink in... Read more about ISS-FIT App

Social Comparison and Contests

In this project, we study the effect of social comparison on inequality in contest environment. We hypothesize that the effects of social comparison on effort will differ for top-performers and bottom-performers in a way that inequality increases, where we consider inequality both in terms of the dispersion of outcomes... Read more about Social Comparison and Contests