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Cognitive ability and strategic sophistication

Listed author(s):
  • Carpenter, Jeffrey
  • Graham, Michael
  • Wolf, Jesse

In three experiments we examine the extent to which strategic sophistication (i.e., inductive reasoning, iterative dominance and level-k thinking) is determined by broader cognitive skills. In the first experiment we replicate previous results showing strong associations between cognitive ability and sophistication in a game of iterative dominance and show that similar results arise in a game requiring induction. In the second two experiments we extend the literature in new directions. In Experiment 2 we modify the games to better capture participantsʼ ability to reason inductively and predict the sophistication of others and, again, find strong associations between cognitive ability, measured using a common IQ test, and sophistication. In Experiment 3 we examine more closely the causal nature of the relationship between cognitive ability and sophistication. We use a standard tool from cognitive psychology to randomly shock the cognitive ability of participants and show that this significantly affects game performance.

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File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0899825613000365
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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 80 (2013)
Issue (Month): C ()
Pages: 115-130

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:80:y:2013:i:c:p:115-130
DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2013.02.012
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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  1. Thomas Dohmen & Armin Falk & David Huffman & Uwe Sunde, 2010. "Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(3), pages 1238-1260, June.
  2. Steven D. Levitt & John A. List & Sally E. Sadoff, 2011. "Checkmate: Exploring Backward Induction among Chess Players," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(2), pages 975-990, April.
  3. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo & Vostroknutov, Alexander, 2010. "Experience and insight in the Race game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 144-155, August.
  4. Costa-Gomes, Miguel & Crawford, Vincent P & Broseta, Bruno, 2001. "Cognition and Behavior in Normal-Form Games: An Experimental Study," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 69(5), pages 1193-1235, September.
  5. repec:feb:artefa:0097 is not listed on IDEAS
  6. Burnham, Terence C. & Cesarini, David & Johannesson, Magnus & Lichtenstein, Paul & Wallace, Björn, 2009. "Higher cognitive ability is associated with lower entries in a p-beauty contest," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 171-175, October.
  7. Rydval, Ondrej & Ortmann, Andreas & Ostatnicky, Michal, 2009. "Three very simple games and what it takes to solve them," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 589-601, October.
  8. Gill, David & Prowse, Victoria, 2012. "Cognitive ability and learning to play equilibrium: A level-k analysis," MPRA Paper 38317, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 23 Apr 2012.
  9. Shane Frederick, 2005. "Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 25-42, Fall.
  10. Georganas, Sotiris & Healy, Paul J. & Weber, Roberto A., 2015. "On the persistence of strategic sophistication," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 159(PA), pages 369-400.
  11. Dufwenberg, Martin & Sundaram, Ramya & Butler, David J., 2010. "Epiphany in the Game of 21," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 132-143, August.
  12. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-1326, December.
  13. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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