Drift effect and timing without observability: experimental evidence
We provide experimental evidence to Binmore and Samuelson’s (1999) insights for modeling the learning process through which equilibrium is selected. They proposed the concept of drift to describe the effect of perturbations on the dynamic process leading to equilibrium in evolutionary games with boundedly rational agents. We test within a random matched population two different versions of the Dalek game where the forward induction equilibrium weakly iterately dominates the other Nash equilibrium in pure strategies. We also assume that the first mover makes her decision first (“timing”) but the second mover is not informed of the first mover's choice (“lack of observability”). Both players are informed of their position in the sequence and of the fact that the second player will decide without knowing the decision of the first player. If the actual observed choices are only those made by other players in previous interactions, the role played by forward induction is replaced with the learning process taking place within the population. Our results support Binmore and Samuelson’s model because the frequency of the forward induction outcome is payoff-sensitive: it strongly increases when we impose a slight change in the payoffs that does not change equilibrium predictions. This evidence reinforces the evolutionary nature of the drift effect.
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