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Endogenous depth of reasoning

We introduce a model of strategic thinking in games of initial response. Unlike standard models of strategic thinking, in this framework the player's "depth of reasoning" is endogenously determined, and it can be disentangled from his beliefs over his opponent's cognitive bound. In our approach, individuals act as if they follow a cost-benefit analysis. The depth of reasoning is a function of the player's cognitive abilities and his payoffs. The costs are exogenous and represent the game theoretical sophistication of the player; the benefit instead is related to the game payoffs. Behavior is in turn determined by the individual's depth of reasoning and his beliefs about the reasoning process of the opponent. Thus, in our framework, payoffs not only affect individual choices in the traditional sense, but they also shape the cognitive process itself. Our model delivers testable implications on players' chosen actions as incentives and opponents change. We then test the model's predictions with an experiment. We administer different treatments that vary beliefs over payoffs and opponents, as well as beliefs over opponents' beliefs. The results of this experiment, which are not accounted for by current models of reasoning in games, strongly support our theory. We also show that the predictions of our model are highly consistent quantitatively with well-known unresolved empirical puzzles. Our approach therefore serves as a novel, unifying framework of strategic thinking that allows for predictions across games.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 1332.

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Date of creation: Jul 2012
Date of revision: Mar 2014
Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1332
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Vincent P. Crawford & Miguel A. Costa-Gomes, 2006. "Cognition and Behavior in Two-Person Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(5), pages 1737-1768, December.
  2. Miguel Costa-Gomes & Vincent P. Crawford & Bruno Broseta, . "Cognition and Behavior in Normal-Form Games:An Experimental Study," Discussion Papers 00/45, Department of Economics, University of York.
  3. Willemien Kets, 2012. "Bounded Reasoning and Higher-Order Uncertainty," Discussion Papers 1547, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. Stahl, Dale II & Wilson, Paul W., 1994. "Experimental evidence on players' models of other players," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 309-327, December.
  5. Davidson, Russell & Duclos, Jean-Yves, 1998. "Statistical Inference for Stochastic Dominance and for the Measurement of Poverty and Inequality," Cahiers de recherche 9805, Université Laval - Département d'économique.
  6. Vincent P. Crawford & Miguel A. Costa-Gomes & Nagore Iriberri, 2010. "Strategic Thinking," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000001148, David K. Levine.
  7. C. Monica Capra, 1999. "Anomalous Behavior in a Traveler's Dilemma?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 678-690, June.
  8. Strzalecki, Tomasz, 2014. "Depth of Reasoning and Higher Order Beliefs," Scholarly Articles 14397608, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  9. Grosskopf, Brit & Nagel, Rosemarie, 2008. "The two-person beauty contest," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 93-99, January.
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