The Simplified Harvard Game

Simplified Harvard Game screenshotA similar program to this was used in Stillwell & Tunney (2009). It is a distributed choice paradigm where individuals make a choice between two outcomes. One outcome gives a high immediate reward but the other is optimal in the longer term. This is achieved by varying the length of the game. The short-term (local) option leads to a short game, with few opportunites to earn payoffs, whereas the long-term (global) option leads to a longer game with more smaller payoffs.

It is hypothesised that this represents a class of decisions that has been largely ignored: Decisions which have to be made multiple times before a particular outcome occurs. For example, no one can choose to become a concert pianist, but one can get up every morning for 10+ years and choose to practice the piano. Similarly, no one chooses to become an alcoholic, but one can choose to go to the pub again, and again, and again.

The Program

You are free to download and use the program in your academic research. There is a configuration file included in which you can change a couple of parameters. One of them is whether you pay participants and how much you pay them per point, and the other is the currency that you use in your payment. All instructions are in the Read Me.txt file. If you have any questions then please contact me: [Please enable images to view e-mail address]

Download the Simplified Harvard Game [116Kb].


Stillwell, D.J. & Tunney, R.J. (2009). Melioration behaviour in the Harvard Game is reduced by simplifying decision outcomes. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62, 2252-2261. [link]