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Classroom Games: Understanding Bayes' Rule

  • Charles A. Holt
  • Lisa R. Anderson

This paper uses the technique of experimental economics to set up a classroom situation where students learn to make Bayesian decisions. The exercises allow students to discover for themselves a natural counting heuristic that corresponds to Bayes's rule and is much quicker to use in many situations. In the context of balls and urns, this heuristic involves adjusting ball counts to reflect prior probabilities. It provides a natural bridge between simple intuition and the mathematical formula for Bayes's rule that is presented in undergraduate courses in economic statistics, game theory, and managerial economics.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.10.2.179
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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 10 (1996)
Issue (Month): 2 (Spring)
Pages: 179-187

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:10:y:1996:i:2:p:179-87
Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.10.2.179
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  1. Grether, David M., . "Bayes Rule as a Descriptive Model: The Representativeness Heuristic," Working Papers 245, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. Grether, David M., 1992. "Testing bayes rule and the representativeness heuristic: Some experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 31-57, January.
  3. Salop, Steven C, 1987. "Evaluating Uncertain Evidence with Sir Thomas Bayes: A Note for Teachers," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 155-59, Summer.
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