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Obviously Strategy-Proof Mechanisms

Mar 2016
Working Paper
16-015
By  Shengwu Li
What makes some strategy-proof mechanisms easier to understand than others? To address this question, I propose a new solution concept: A mechanism is obviously strategy-proof (OSP) if it has an equilibrium in obviously dominant strategies. This has a behavioral interpretation: A strategy is obviously dominant if and only if a cognitively limited agent can recognize it as weakly dominant. It also has a classical interpretation: A choice rule is OSP-implementable if and only if it can be carried out by a social planner under a particular regime of partial commitment. I fully characterize the set of OSP mechanisms in a canonical setting, with one-dimensional types and transfers. A laboratory experiment tests and corroborates the theory.