On the relevance of irrelevant strategies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The experimental literature on individual choice has repeatedly documented how seemingly-irrelevant options systematically shift decision-makers’ choices. However, little is known about such effects in strategic interactions. We experimentally examine whether adding seemingly-irrelevant strategies, such as a dominated strategy or a duplicate of an existing strategy, affects players’ behavior in simultaneous games. In coordination games, we find that adding a dominated strategy increases the likelihood that players choose the strategy which dominates it, and duplicating a strategy increases its choice share; The players’ opponents seem to internalize this behavior and best respond to it. In single-equilibrium games, these effects disappear. Consequently, we suggest that irrelevant strategies affect behavior only when they serve a strategic purpose. We discuss different theoretical approaches that accommodate the effect of salience and may explain our findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1142-1184
Number of pages43
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Economic Science Association.


  • Asymmetric dominance effect
  • Coordination
  • Dominated strategy
  • Experiment
  • Level-k
  • Salience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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