Quotation Willems, Jurgen, Geys, Benny. 2021. What‘s your number. In: Critical Contributions To Economics And Beyond, Hrsg. Stijn Van Puyvelde, Caroline Buts, 46-61. Berlin: Lexxion · Berlin.




Liber Amicorum for Marc Jegers: For a long time, Marc had the habit of sending emails with subject ‘book lottery’ to the APEC team. In these emails, he asked us to choose a number – always between 1 and 9 – and the first person sending him the correct answer would win a book. The correct number had been written down by Marc prior to sending the email. A few minutes after the original email, a new email would follow with the name of the winner and the correct number. If no one had guessed the correct number, the game would start over until someone had chosen the right number. In addition to being an efficient way to allocate a scare resource (one book) in a fair way among an unidentified set of multiple potentially interested readers, Marc’s emails also provoked a shift of attention among team members. Dropping whatever they were doing, the team’s focus would over the next few minutes solely be on Marc’s mood of that day, the number of other team members having seen his email, and, probably, the position of the stars. Of prime interest to us, the guessing ‘game’ stimulated team members’ cognitive abilities. It triggered strategic considerations about what the “lucky number” could be, based on the limited information available and an intuitive estimate of probabilities about others’ estimates and likely strategies. In this chapter, we use Marc’s allocation mechanism – which we refer to as the ‘Marc Jegers book game’ – to explore the extent to which gamification may trigger particular cognitive heuristics while performing a task as basic as choosing a number between 1 and 9. In doing so, we contribute to the literature on gamification, as well as the literature on fair allocation mechanisms of scarce resources.


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  • Gamification
  • Game theory
  • Game research
  • Marc Jegers book game
  • allocation
  • lucky number 7
  • bias
  • cognitive
  • cognitive processes

Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Chapter in edited volume
Language English
Title What‘s your number
Title of whole publication Critical Contributions To Economics And Beyond
Editor Stijn Van Puyvelde, Caroline Buts
Page from 46
Page to 61
Location Berlin
Publisher Lexxion · Berlin
Year 2021
Reviewed? Y
ISBN 978-3-86965-371-6
Open Access N


Willems, Jurgen (Details)
Geys, Benny (Norwegian Business School, Norway)
Institute for Public Management and Governance IN (Details)
Research areas (ÖSTAT Classification 'Statistik Austria')
1152 Game theory (Details)
5511 Social psychology (Details)
5953 Game theory (Details)
5960 Game research (Details)
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