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Confusion and Reinforcement Learning in Experimental Public Goods Games

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  • Ralph-C. Bayer

    ()

  • Elke Renner

    ()

  • Rupert Sausgruber

    ()

Abstract

We use a limited information environment to mimic the state of confusion in an experimental, repeated public goods game. The results show that reinforcement learning leads to dynamics similar to those observed in standard public goods games. However, closer inspection shows that individual decay of contributions in standard public goods games cannot be fully explained by reinforcement learning. According to our estimates, learning only accounts for 41 percent of the decay in contributions in standard public goods games. The contribution dynamics of subjects, who are identified as conditional cooperators, differ strongly from the learning dynamics, while a learning model estimated from the limited information treatment tracks behavior for subjects, who cannot be classified as conditional cooperators, reasonably well.

Suggested Citation

  • Ralph-C. Bayer & Elke Renner & Rupert Sausgruber, 2009. "Confusion and Reinforcement Learning in Experimental Public Goods Games," Working Papers 2009-22, Faculty of Economics and Statistics, University of Innsbruck.
  • Handle: RePEc:inn:wpaper:2009-22
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Toke Reinholt Fosgaard & Lars Gårn Hansen & Erik Wengström, 2011. "Framing and Misperceptions in a Public Good Experiment," IFRO Working Paper 2011/11, University of Copenhagen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, revised Oct 2012.
    2. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gachter, 2010. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(1), pages 541-556, March.
    3. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2008. "Heterogeneous Social Preferences and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Good Experiments," TWI Research Paper Series 27, Thurgauer Wirtschaftsinstitut, Universität Konstanz.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    public goods experiments; learning; limited information; confusion; conditional cooperation;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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