OPEN Scientific reports | 5 Feb 2016
BJ Dyson, JM Wilbiks, R Sandhu, G Papanicolaou and J Lintag
Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) represents a unique gaming space in which the predictions of human rational decision-making can be compared with actual performance. Playing a computerized opponent adopting a mixed-strategy equilibrium, participants revealed a non-significant tendency to over-select Rock. Further violations of rational decision-making were observed using an inter-trial analysis where participants were more likely to switch their item selection at trial n + 1 following a loss or draw at trial n, revealing the strategic vulnerability of individuals following the experience of negative rather than positive outcome. Unique switch strategies related to each of these trial n outcomes were also identified: after losing participants were more likely to ‘downgrade’ their item (e.g., Rock followed by Scissors) but after drawing participants were more likely to ‘upgrade’ their item (e.g., Rock followed by Paper). Further repetition analysis revealed that participants were more likely to continue their specific cyclic item change strategy into trial n + 2. The data reveal the strategic vulnerability of individuals following the experience of negative rather than positive outcome, the tensions between behavioural and cognitive influences on decision making, and underline the dangers of increased behavioural predictability in other recursive, non-cooperative environments such as economics and politics.
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