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Cognitive ability and learning to play equilibrium: A level-k analysis

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  • David Gill
  • Victoria Prowse

Abstract

In this paper we investigate how cognitive ability influences behavior, success and theevolution of play towards Nash equilibrium in repeated strategic interactions. We study behaviorin a p-beauty contest experiment and find striking differences according to cognitiveability: more cognitively able subjects choose numbers closer to equilibrium, converge morefrequently to equilibrium play and earn more even as behavior approaches the equilibriumprediction. To understand better how subjects with different cognitive abilities learn differently,we estimate a structural model of learning based on level-k reasoning. We find asystematic positive relationship between cognitive ability and levels; furthermore, the averagelevel of more cognitively able subjects responds positively to the cognitive ability of theiropponents, while the average level of less cognitively able subjects does not respond at all.Our results suggest that, in strategic environments, higher cognitive ability translates intobetter analytic reasoning and a better ‘theory of mind’.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 641.

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Date of creation: 25 Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:641

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Keywords: Cognitive ability; bounded rationality; level-k; convergence; learning non-equilibrium behavior; beauty contest; repeated games; structural modeling; theory of mind; intelligence; Raven test;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Eizo Akiyama & Nobuyuki Hanaki & Ryuichiro Ishikawa, 2013. "How Do Experienced Traders Respond to Inflows of Inexperienced Traders? An Experimental Analysis," AMSE Working Papers 1359, Aix-Marseille School of Economics, Marseille, France, revised 18 Dec 2013.
  2. Mikhail Drugov & Roberto Hernán-González & Praveen Kujal & Marta Troya Martinez, 2013. "Cheap Talk with Two Audiences: An Experiment," Working Papers 13-32, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  3. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Teresa García-Muño & Roberto Hernán, 2011. "Cognitive effort in the Beauty Contest Game," Working Papers 11-08, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  4. Heller, Yuval, 2012. "Three steps ahead," MPRA Paper 39429, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Fehr, Dietmar & Huck, Steffen, 2013. "Who knows It is a game? On rule understanding, strategic awareness and cognitive ability," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-306, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).
  6. Sotiris Georganas & Paul J. Healy & Roberto A. Weber, 2014. "On the Persistence of Strategic Sophistication," CESifo Working Paper Series 4653, CESifo Group Munich.
  7. Chen, Chia-Ching & Chiu, I-Ming & Smith, John & Yamada, Tetsuji, 2012. "Too smart to be selfish? Measures of cognitive ability, social preferences, and consistency," MPRA Paper 41078, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2012. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game: Are there brains in games?," MPRA Paper 38825, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Allred, Sarah & Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2013. "Cognitive Load and Strategic Sophistication," MPRA Paper 47997, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  10. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Graham, Michael & Wolf, Jesse, 2013. "Cognitive ability and strategic sophistication," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 115-130.

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