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Dumbing down rational players: Learning and teaching in an experimental game

  • Terracol, Antoine
  • Vaksmann, Jonathan

This paper uses experimental data to examine the existence of a teaching strategy among boundedly rational players. If players realize that their own actions modify their opponents' beliefs and actions, they might play certain actions to this specific end and forego immediate payoffs if the expected payoff gain from a teaching strategy is high enough. Our results support the existence of a teaching strategy in several ways. After exhibiting some regularities consistent with teaching, we examine more precisely the existence of such a strategy. First we show that players update their beliefs in order to take account of the reaction of their opponents to their own action. Second, we examine whether players actually use a teaching strategy by playing an action that induces a poor immediate payoff but is likely to modify the opponent's behavior so that a preferable outcome might emerge in the future. We find strong evidence of such a strategy in the data and confirm this finding within a logistic model that suggests that the future expected payoff that could arise from a teaching strategy has indeed a significant impact on choice probabilities. Finally, we investigate the effective impact of a teaching strategy on achieved outcomes and find that more tenacious teachers can successfully use such a strategy in order to reach their favorite outcome at the expense of their opponents.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 70 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1-2 (May)
Pages: 54-71

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:70:y:2009:i:1-2:p:54-71
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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