IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs


  • Yaw Nyarko

    () (New York University, U.S.A.)

  • Andrew Schotter

    () (New York University, U.S.A.)


This paper investigates belief learning. Unlike other investigators who have been forced to use observable proxies to approximate unobserved beliefs, we have, using a belief elicitation procedure (proper scoring rule), elicited subject beliefs directly. As a result we were able to perform a more direct test of the proposition that people behave in a manner consistent with belief learning. What we find is interesting. First to the extent that subjects tend to "belief learn," the beliefs they use are the stated beliefs we elicit from them and not the "empirical beliefs" posited by fictitious play or Cournot models. Second, we present evidence that the stated beliefs of our subjects differ dramatically, both quantitatively and qualitatively, from the type of empirical or historical beliefs usually used as proxies for them. Third, our belief elicitation procedures allow us to examine how far we can be led astray when we are forced to infer the value of parameters using observable proxies for variables previously thought to be unobservable. By transforming a heretofore unobservable into an observable, we can see directly how parameter estimates change when this new information is introduced. Again, we demonstrate that such differences can be dramatic. Finally, our belief learning model using stated beliefs outperforms both a reinforcement and EWA model when all three models are estimated using our data. Copyright The Econometric Society 2002.

Suggested Citation

  • Yaw Nyarko & Andrew Schotter, 2002. "An Experimental Study of Belief Learning Using Elicited Beliefs," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(3), pages 971-1005, May.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:70:y:2002:i:3:p:971-1005

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nash, John, 1953. "Two-Person Cooperative Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 21(1), pages 128-140, April.
    2. Harsanyi, John C, 1995. "Games with Incomplete Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 291-303, June.
    3. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    4. Myerson, Roger B, 1979. "Incentive Compatibility and the Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(1), pages 61-73, January.
    5. John C. Harsanyi & Reinhard Selten, 1972. "A Generalized Nash Solution for Two-Person Bargaining Games with Incomplete Information," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(5-Part-2), pages 80-106, January.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:emetrp:v:70:y:2002:i:3:p:971-1005. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Wiley-Blackwell Digital Licensing) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.