The Beauty Contest

John Maynard Keynes classic "Beauty Contest" had people choose from a set of faces which they thought would be considered the six most beautiful. Winners were chosen from those who chose the most popular face. This easy task replicates the experiment with a simple numbers game. Prior to class subjects are asked to fill out a Qualtrics survey, or some other tool, and choose a number from 0 to 100. The winner is 2/3rds of the average of everyone's number. What would you do?

Below are the instructions followed by a downloadable zip file with the survey and analysis files.

Student Instructions

You are playing the following game with other students in your class. Do not talk to other students in the class. You must provide your answers within 5 minutes of starting.  

1) You can pick any number in the continuous range from 0 to 100 (decimals are allowed – for instance, 47.23). 

2) The Professor will collect all of the numbers from students playing the game.

3) All of the numbers from the students playing this game are collected and averaged together. Call this average X.

4) We calculate 2/3 of X.  Let Y = (2/3) · X.

5) The student whose number is closest to Y wins $5.  (In the case of a tie, the $5 reward is evenly split among the winning students.)

Write your number here: