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Confusion and Reinforcement Learning in Experimental Public Goods Games

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  • Ralph-C. Bayer

    ()

  • Elke Renner

    ()

  • Rupert Sausgruber

    ()

Abstract

We use a limited information environment to mimic the state of confusion in an experimental, repeated public goods game. The results show that reinforcement learning leads to dynamics similar to those observed in standard public goods games. However, closer inspection shows that individual decay of contributions in standard public goods games cannot be fully explained by reinforcement learning. According to our estimates, learning only accounts for 41 percent of the decay in contributions in standard public goods games. The contribution dynamics of subjects, who are identified as conditional cooperators, differ strongly from the learning dynamics, while a learning model estimated from the limited information treatment tracks behavior for subjects, who cannot be classified as conditional cooperators, reasonably well.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck in its series Working Papers with number 2009-22.

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Length: 38
Date of creation: Sep 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:inn:wpaper:2009-22

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Keywords: public goods experiments; learning; limited information; confusion; conditional cooperation;

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References

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  1. R Blundell & Steven Bond, . "Initial conditions and moment restrictions in dynamic panel data model," Economics Papers W14&104., Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  2. Laurent Muller & Martin Sefton & Richard Steinberg & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Strategic Behavior and Learning in Repeated Voluntary-Contribution Experiments," Discussion Papers 2005-13, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Keser, Claudia & van Winden, Frans, 2000. " Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 23-39, March.
  4. Colin Camerer & Teck-Hua Ho, 1999. "Experience-weighted Attraction Learning in Normal Form Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(4), pages 827-874, July.
  5. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
  6. Sarin, Rajiv & Vahid, Farshid, 1999. "Payoff Assessments without Probabilities: A Simple Dynamic Model of Choice," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 28(2), pages 294-309, August.
  7. Arellano, Manuel & Bover, Olympia, 1995. "Another look at the instrumental variable estimation of error-components models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 29-51, July.
  8. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List, 2007. "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal About the Real World?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(2), pages 153-174, Spring.
  9. repec:dgr:uvatin:2000011 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2009. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Good Experiments," Discussion Papers 2009-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  11. R. Cookson, 2000. "Framing Effects in Public Goods Experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 55-79, June.
  12. Mookherjee Dilip & Sopher Barry, 1994. "Learning Behavior in an Experimental Matching Pennies Game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 62-91, July.
  13. Rajiv Sarin & Farshid Vahid, 2004. "Strategy Similarity and Coordination," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(497), pages 506-527, 07.
  14. Croson, Rachel T. A., 1996. "Partners and strangers revisited," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 25-32, October.
  15. Chen, Yan & Khoroshilov, Yuri, 2003. "Learning under limited information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 1-25, July.
  16. Colin F. Camerer & Ernst Fehr, . "Measuring Social Norms and Preferences using Experimental Games: A Guide for Social Scientists," IEW - Working Papers 097, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  17. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  18. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  19. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2009. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Good Experiments," Discussion Papers 2009-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  2. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2008. "Heterogeneous Social Preferences And The Dynamics Of Free Riding In Public Good Experiments," Discussion Papers 2008-07, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  3. Toke Reinholt Fosgaard & Lars Gårn Hansen & Erik Wengström, 2011. "Framing and Misperceptions in a Public Good Experiment," IFRO Working Paper 2011/11, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, revised Oct 2012.

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