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Cognitive Ability, Character Skills, and Learning to Play Equilibrium: A Level-k Analysis

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  • David Gill
  • Victoria Prowse

Abstract

We investigate how cognitive ability and character skills influence the evolution of play toward Nash equilibrium in repeated strategic interactions. We find that more cognitively able subjects choose numbers closer to equilibrium, earn more, and converge more frequently to equilibrium play. We estimate a structural model of learning based on level k reasoning and find a positive relationship between cognitive ability and levels. Furthermore, the average level of more cognitively able subjects responds positively to the cognitive ability of their opponents. More agreeable and emotionally stable subjects also learn faster, although the effect of cognitive ability is stronger than that of personality.

Suggested Citation

  • David Gill & Victoria Prowse, 2016. "Cognitive Ability, Character Skills, and Learning to Play Equilibrium: A Level-k Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(6), pages 1619-1676.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:doi:10.1086/688849
    DOI: 10.1086/688849
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    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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