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Cognitive Load and Strategic Sophistication

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  • Allred, Sarah
  • Duffy, Sean
  • Smith, John

Abstract

We study the relationship between the cognitive load manipulation and strategic sophistication. The cognitive load manipulation is designed to reduce the subject's cognitive resources which are available for deliberation on a choice. In our experiment, subjects are placed under a large cognitive load (given a difficult number to remember) or a low cognitive load (given a number which is not difficult to remember). Subsequently, the subjects play a one-shot game then they are asked to recall the number. This procedure is repeated for various games, where a new number is given for each game. We find a nuanced and nonmonotonic relationship between cognitive load and strategic sophistication. This relationship is consistent with two effects. First, subjects under a high cognitive load tend to exhibit behavior consistent with the reduced ability to compute the optimal decision. Second, the cognitive load tends to affect the subject's perception of their relative standing in the distribution of cognitive ability. The net result of these two effects depends on the strategic setting. Our experiment provides indirect evidence on the literature which examines the relationship between measures of cognitive ability and strategic sophistication.

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  • Allred, Sarah & Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2013. "Cognitive Load and Strategic Sophistication," MPRA Paper 47997, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:47997
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    Cited by:

    1. Kai Duttle & Keigo Inukai, 2015. "Complexity Aversion: Influences of Cognitive Abilities, Culture and System of Thought," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 35(2), pages 846-855.
    2. Buckert, Magdalena & Oechssler, Jörg & Schwieren, Christiane, 2017. "Imitation under stress," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 252-266.
    3. Kiss, H.J. & Rodriguez-Lara, I. & Rosa-García, A., 2016. "Think twice before running! Bank runs and cognitive abilities," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 12-19.
    4. Dahremöller, Carsten & Fels, Markus, 2015. "Product lines, product design, and limited attention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 437-456.
    5. Juan M. Benito-Ostolaza & Penélope Hernández & Juan A. Sanchis-Llopis, 2015. "Are individuals with higher cognitive ability expected to play more strategically?," Working Papers 1507, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
    6. Sarah R., Allred & L. Elizabeth, Crawford & Sean, Duffy & John, Smith, 2015. "Working memory and spatial judgments: Cognitive load increases the central tendency bias," MPRA Paper 63520, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    7. Dietmar Fehr & Steffen Huck, 2016. "Who knows it is a game? On strategic awareness and cognitive ability," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 713-726, December.
    8. Deck, Cary & Jahedi, Salar, 2015. "The effect of cognitive load on economic decision making: A survey and new experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 97-119.
    9. Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2014. "Cognitive load in the multi-player prisoner's dilemma game: Are there brains in games?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 47-56.
    10. Brañas-Garza, Pablo & Smith, John, 2016. "Cognitive abilities and economic behavior," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 1-4.
    11. Allred, Sarah & Crawford, L. Elizabeth & Duffy, Sean & Smith, John, 2014. "Cognitive constraints increase estimation biases: Cognitive load and delay in judgments," MPRA Paper 58314, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    Keywords

    bounded rationality; experimental economics; working memory load; beauty contest; strategic sophistication; rational inattention;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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