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Cognitive ability, character skills, and learning to play equilibrium: A level-k analysis

Listed author(s):
  • David Gill
  • Victoria Prowse

In this paper we investigate how cognitive ability and character skills influence behavior, success and the evolution of play towards Nash equilibrium in repeated strategic interactions. We study behavior in a p-beauty contest experiment and find striking differences according to cognitive ability: more cognitively able subjects choose numbers closer to equilibrium, converge more frequently to equilibrium play and earn more even as behavior approaches the equilibrium prediction. To understand better how subjects with different cognitive abilities learn differently, we estimate a structural model of learning based on level-k reasoning. We find a systematic 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, while the average level of less cognitively able subjects does not respond. Finally, we compare the influence of cognitive ability to that of character skills, and find that both cognition and personality affect behavior and learning. More agreeable and emotionally stable subjects perform better and learn faster, although the effect of cognitive ability on behavior is stronger than that of character skills.

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File URL: http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/materials/papers/13363/paper712.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Oxford, Department of Economics in its series Economics Series Working Papers with number 712.

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Date of creation: 12 Jun 2014
Handle: RePEc:oxf:wpaper:712
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Web page: https://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/
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  1. Didier Fouarge & Trudie Schils & Andries de Grip, 2013. "Why do low-educated workers invest less in further training?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 45(18), pages 2587-2601, June.
  2. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  3. Oliver Schnusenberg & Andrés Gallo, 2011. "On Cognitive Ability and Learning in a Beauty Contest," Journal for Economic Educators, Middle Tennessee State University, Business and Economic Research Center, vol. 11(1), pages 13-24, Summer.
  4. Al-Ubaydli, Omar & Jones, Garett & Weel, Jaap, 2010. "Patience, cognitive skill and coordination in the repeated stag hunt," MPRA Paper 27723, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Gneezy, Uri & Rustichini, Aldo & Vostroknutov, Alexander, 2010. "Experience and insight in the Race game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 75(2), pages 144-155, August.
  6. Emrah Arbak & Marie-Claire Villeval, 2013. "Voluntary leadership: motivation and influence," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 40(3), pages 635-662, March.
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