Do repeated game players detect patterns in opponents? Revisiting the Nyarko & Schotter belief elicitation experiment
The purpose of this paper is to reexamine the seminal belief elicitation experiment by Nyarko and Schotter (2002) under the prism of pattern recognition. Instead of modeling elicited beliefs by a standard weighted ﬁctitious play model this paper proposes a generalized variant of ﬁctitious play that is able to detect two period patterns in opponents’ behavior. Evidence is presented that these generalized pattern detection models provide a better ﬁt than standard weighted ﬁctitious play. Individual heterogeneity was discovered as ten players were classiﬁed as employing a two period pattern detection ﬁctitious play model, compared to eleven players who followed a non-pattern detecting ﬁctitious play model. The average estimates of the memory parameter for these classes were 0.678 and 0.456 respectively, with ﬁve individual cases where the memory parameter was equal to zero. This is in sharp contrast to the estimates obtained from standard weighted ﬁctitious play models which are centred on one, a bias introduced by the absence of a constant in these models. Non-pattern detecting ﬁctitious play models with memory parameters of zero are equivalent to the win-stay/lose-shift heuristic, and therefore some sub jects seem to be employing a simple heuristic alternative to more complex learning models. Simulations of these various belief formation models show that that this simple heuristic is quite eﬀective against other more complex ﬁctitious play models.
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