J! Lit Review, Part Three

After a successful dissertation defense, I’m back with another installment in my review of Jeopardy!-related scholarship–the most important project, obviously. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out parts one and two before proceeding further; they will help orient you to the broader themes of J! scholarship and cover some of the more frequently cited pieces of research.

With that out of the way, let’s dig in!




Xin He, J. Jeffrey Inman, and Vikas Mittal, “Gender Jeopardy in Financial Risk Taking,” Journal of Marketing Research 45, no. 4 (August 2008): 414-424.

The authors of this article contend that “risk taking between men and women systematically depends on their differential sensitivity to issue capability.” Issue capability, for the unfamiliar, is whether or not a person believes that they have the ability, skills, resources, etc. to solve a problem. Though the majority of the article is concerned with the potential implications of the factor on financial investment, the authors did find in the first of their three studies (which focused on Daily Double wagering) that it also, on average, influenced women’s wagering strategy more than it did men’s.


Gabriella Sjögren Lindquist and Jenny Säve-Söderbergh, “‘Girls will be Girls’, especially among Boys: Risk-taking in the ‘Daily Double’ on Jeopardy,” Economics Letters 112, no. 2 (August 2011): 158-160.

Jenny Säve-Söderbergh and Gabriella Sjögren Lindquist, “Children Do Not Behave Like Adults: Gender Gaps in Performance and Risk Taking in a Random Social Context in the High-Stakes Game Shows Jeopardy and Junior Jeopardy,” The Economic Journal 127 (August 2015): 1665-1692.

Although I did include one article by this scholarly duo in the first part of my lit review, I only recently came across these two works, and so I am treating them both here in round three. In the first of the two articles, the authors conclude that female contestants wager more conservatively if playing against two other male contestants, even though doing so is not an optimal strategy; and in the second, they find that this gender gap only manifests later in life, as younger girls did not manifest the same hesitancy in the children’s version of the program. (Two other scholars, mentioned below, reached a similarly age-specific conclusion about DD wagering.)


Shaun P. Young, ed., Jeopardy! and Philosophy: What Is Knowledge in the Form of a Question? Chicago: Open Court Publishing Company, 2012.

The contributors to this edited collection, as with other volumes in its series, take a cultural touchstone (in this case, our favorite quiz show) and use it as an occasion to riff on various aspects of philosophy which touch upon the subject. As with all scholarly edited volumes, the quality of the essays varies quite a bit, but there are a few things of note to potential J! contestants, whatever the book’s merit as a work of philosophy. First is the presence of a foreword by Ken Jennings, who briefly waxes philosophical (pun most certainly intended) about the nature of Jeopardy!‘s appeal. Also worth checking out are the contributions of Daniel F. Melia, a UC Berkeley professor who won five regular-season games as well as his ToC, competed in the 2005 Ultimate ToC, and participated in the 2014 Battle of the Decades; as well as Matt Kohlstedt, another five-time winner who made it to the semifinals of his ToC. Though relatively little of the book’s content has to do with the actual game of Jeopardy! itself, Melia does argue (a suggestion that is perhaps worth considering, given his success on the show) that “a wrong answer rate of around ten percent is about right. Lower, and you are not buzzing in on enough questions to win, higher, and you will lose too much money to win.” (10)


Michael Jetter and Jay K. Walker, “Anchoring in financial decision-making: Evidence from Jeopardy!” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 141 (September 2017): 164-176.

Michael Jetter and Jay K. Walker, “The gender of opponents: Explaining gender differences in performance and risk-taking?” European Economic Review 109(C) (2018): 238-256.

Michael Jetter and Jay K. Walker, “At what age does the anchoring heuristic emerge? Evidence from Jeopardy!” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jebo.2019.08.017

Jetter and Walker have combined to write several J! related articles with practical implications in recent years. Their 2017 article finds that on Daily Double clues, contestants’ wagering decisions are heavily influenced by the initial dollar amount of the clue under consideration, even when accounting for other factors such as the category and competitors’ scores. The most recent article (which has been published online but has not yet appeared in print) indicates, however, that this phenomenon (known as “anchoring”) does not appear to factor into kids’ and teenagers’ wagering decisions, though it does for college tournament contestants. The other article, published in the interim, reached the opposite conclusion of one of the articles cited above: the authors found in their study that women actually became less risk-averse and more likely to ring in when facing male competition.


Curtis M. Simon, “Loss Aversion and Risk Aversion in Wagering on Jeopardy!‘s ‘Daily Double,'” Social Science Quarterly 100, no. 1 (February 2019): 140-162.

Simon’s recent article reaches four primary conclusions about loss and risk aversion, using J! Daily Double wagering as its source material. First, leading contestants tend to wager less than those who are trailing when they find a DD; second, contestants factor in not only points/money but also how much time is left in the game when wagering; third, women, on average, are more risk averse than men when trailing, but not when leading; and fourth, that special J! programs, such as the show’s various tournaments and age-specific weeks, provide some evidence to bolster the other three conclusions.


Once again, I am happy to return for a part four if more scholarship turns up, but this is all that I have been able to track down since the last post–aside from articles on Watson and on using J!-style games in teaching, two categorical exclusions I decided to make back in the first post. With any luck, I am now at a good stopping point, but undoubtedly, there will be more Jeopardy! scholarship in the future; if there is, you’ll be able to find it here!

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