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The Role of Context and Team Play in Cross-Game Learning

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  • David J. Cooper
  • John H. Kagel

Abstract

One of the dividing lines between economics and psychology experiments is that economists favor abstract context while psychologists favor meaningful context. We investigate the effects of meaningful versus abstract context on cross-game learning in a signaling game experiment. With individual decision makers (1 × 1 games) meaningful context promotes positive cross-game learning in moving from a pooling equilibrium to a separating equilibrium, whereas abstract context yields negative cross-game learning. In 1 × 1 games a change in the (meaningful) context which accompanies "superficial" changes in the game stalls the learning process compared to an abstract context that does not change. In contrast, with two-person teams the same change in meaningful context has no disruptive effect on strategic play, with teams also having substantially higher levels of strategic play than the 1 × 1 games. We relate the effects of meaningful versus abstract context on cross-game learning to the psychology literature on deductive reasoning processes. (JEL C72, C92, D82, L12) (c) 2009 by the European Economic Association.

Suggested Citation

  • David J. Cooper & John H. Kagel, 2009. "The Role of Context and Team Play in Cross-Game Learning," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 7(5), pages 1101-1139, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:jeurec:v:7:y:2009:i:5:p:1101-1139
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    Cited by:

    1. Grossman, Zachary & Owens, David, 2012. "An unlucky feeling: Overconfidence and noisy feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 510-524.
    2. Grossman, Zachary & Owens, David, 2012. "An unlucky feeling: Overconfidence and noisy feedback," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 510-524.
    3. Reyer Gerlagh & Eline van der Heijden, 2015. "Going Green: Framing Effects in a Dynamic Coordination Game," CESifo Working Paper Series 5618, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Rodney Garratt & Mark Walker & John Wooders, 2012. "Behavior in second-price auctions by highly experienced eBay buyers and sellers," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 15(1), pages 44-57, March.
    5. Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Julie Rosaz & Jason Shogren, 2015. "Truth-telling under Oath," Post-Print halshs-01224135, HAL.
    6. Marco Casari & Jingjing Zhang & Christine Jackson, 2016. "Same process, different outcomes: group performance in an acquiring a company experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 764-791, December.
    7. Heggedal, Tom-Reiel & Helland, Leif, 2014. "Platform selection in the lab," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 168-177.
    8. Jeitschko, Thomas D. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2012. "Signaling in deterministic and stochastic settings," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 82(1), pages 39-55.
    9. Benndorf, Volker & Kübler, Dorothea & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2015. "Privacy concerns, voluntary disclosure of information, and unraveling: An experiment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 75(C), pages 43-59.
    10. Alekseev, Aleksandr & Charness, Gary & Gneezy, Uri, 2017. "Experimental methods: When and why contextual instructions are important," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 48-59.
    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. Philippe Jehiel & Laurent Lamy, 2015. "On absolute auctions and secret reserve prices," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 46(2), pages 241-270, June.
    13. Cooper, David J. & Kagel, John H., 2016. "A failure to communicate: an experimental investigation of the effects of advice on strategic play," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 24-45.
    14. Van Essen, Matt & Wooders, John, 2015. "Blind stealing: Experience and expertise in a mixed-strategy poker experiment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 186-206.
    15. Philippe Jehiel & Steffen Huck & Tom Rutter, 2007. "Learning Spillover and Analogy-based Expectations: a Multi-Game Experiment," Levine's Bibliography 843644000000000120, UCLA Department of Economics.
    16. Faravelli, Marco & Stanca, Luca, 2012. "Single versus multiple-prize all-pay auctions to finance public goods: An experimental analysis," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 677-688.
    17. Zizzo, Daniel John, 2013. "Claims and confounds in economic experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 186-195.
    18. Casari, Marco & Zhang, Jingjing & Jackson, Christine, 2015. "Same Process, Different Outcomes: Group Performance in an Acquiring a Company Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 9614, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    19. Steffen Huck & Philippe Jehiel & Tom Rutter, 2006. "Information Processing, Learning and Analogy-based Expectation: an Experiment," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000541, UCLA Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design
    • L12 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Monopoly; Monopolization Strategies

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