Focality and Asymmetry in Multi-battle Contests
Abstract: This article examines behavior in two-person constant-sum Colonel Blotto games in which each player maximizes the expected total value of the battlefields won. A lottery contest success function is employed in each battlefield. Recent experimental research on such games provides only partial support for Nash equilibrium behavior. We hypothesize that the salience of battlefields affects strategic behavior (the salient target hypothesis). We present a controlled test of this hypothesis – against Nash predictions – when the sources of salience come from certain asymmetries in either battlefield values or labels (as in Schelling (1960)). In both cases, subjects over-allocate the resource to the salient battlefields relative to the Nash prediction. However, the effect is stronger with salient values. In the absence of salience, we replicate previous results in the literature supporting the Nash prediction.