School of Economics and Finance

No. 456: On Smiles, Winks, and Handshakes as Coordination Devices

Paola Manzini , Queen Mary, University of London
Abdolkarim Sadrieh , Tilburg University
Nicolaas J. Vriend , Queen Mary, University of London

March 1, 2002

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In an experimental study we examine a variant of the 'minimum effort game', a coordination game with Pareto ranked equilibria, and risk considerations pointing to the least efficient equilibrium. We focus on the question whether simple cues such as smiles, winks and handshakes could be recognized and employed by the players as a tell-tale sign of each other's trustworthiness, thus enabling them to coordinate on the more risky but more rewarding Pareto efficient equilibrium. Our experimental results show that such cues may indeed play a role as coordination devices as their information value is significant and substantial.

J.E.L classification codes: C72, C91, C92

Keywords:Coordination games, Pareto efficiency, Trust, Cues, Signals