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Naive Reinforcement Learning with Endogenous Aspirations

  • Borgers, Tilman
  • Sarin, Rajiv

This article considers a simple model of reinforcement learning. All behavior change derives from the reinforcing or deterring effect of instantaneous payoff experiences. Payoff experiences are reinforcing or deterring depending on whether the paxoff exceeds an aspiration level or falls short of it. Over time, the aspiration level is adjusted toward the actually experienced payoffs. This article shows that aspiration level adjustments may improve the decision maker's long-run performance by preventing him or her from feeling dissatisfied with even the best available strategies. However, such movements also lead to persistent deviations from expected payoff maximization by creating "probability matching" effects. Copyright 2000 by Economics Department of the University of Pennsylvania and the Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association.

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Article provided by Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association in its journal International Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 41 (2000)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 921-50

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Handle: RePEc:ier:iecrev:v:41:y:2000:i:4:p:921-50
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  1. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 1993. "Case-Based Optimization," Discussion Papers 1039, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Cross, John G, 1973. "A Stochastic Learning Model of Economic Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 239-66, May.
  3. Bendor, J. & Mookherjee, D. & Ray, D., 1994. "Aspirations, Adaptive Learning and Cooperation in Reapeted Games," Papers 27, Boston University - Department of Economics.
  4. Karandikar, Rajeeva & Mookherjee, Dilip & Ray, Debraj & Vega-Redondo, Fernando, 1998. "Evolving Aspirations and Cooperation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 80(2), pages 292-331, June.
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