Document Type


Publication Date



Tournaments consisting of iterative matches are a common mechanism for determining how to allocate a prize. While participants are focused on their own outcomes, tournament organizers often have objectives such as maximizing the total investment or effort by the participants over the course of the tournament. For this reason it is important for organizers to understand the behavioral as well as the theoretical properties of different tournament structures. Given that laboratory experiments have consistently found high levels of overbidding in contests, one might suspect that double-elimination tournaments would generate substantially more total investment than single-elimination tournaments despite the two types of tournaments generating theoretically equivalent expected aggregate investment. This paper reports a set of laboratory experiments designed to test this comparison. The results indicate that aggregate investment is similar between the two tournaments. While observed behavior in the single-elimination tournament is quite similar to theoretical predictions, behavior in the double-elimination tournament appears to be impacted by an implicit, self-imposed budget constraint.


Working Paper 14-10



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.