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Who knows It is a game? On rule understanding, strategic awareness and cognitive ability

  • Fehr, Dietmar
  • Huck, Steffen

We introduce the notion of strategic awareness in experimental games which captures the idea that subjects realize they are playing a game and thus have to form beliefs about others' actions in order to play well. The concept differs from both, rule understanding and rationality. We then turn to experimental evidence from a beauty contest game where we elicit measures of cognitive ability and beliefs about others' cognitive ability. We show that the effect of cognitive ability is highly non-linear. Subjects' behavior below a certain threshold is indistinguishable from uniform random play and does not correlate with beliefs about others ability. In contrast, choices of subjects who exceed the threshold avoid dominated choices and react very sensitively to beliefs about others cognitive ability.

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Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change with number SP II 2013-306.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbeoc:spii2013306
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  1. Dimitrios Christelis & Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula, 2006. "Cognitive Abilities and Portfolio Choice," CSEF Working Papers 157, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
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  18. Ho, Teck Hua & Weigelt, Keith & Camerer, Colin, 1996. "Iterated Dominance and Iterated Best-Response in Experimental P-Beauty Contests," Working Papers 974, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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  21. Burnham, Terence C. & Cesarini, David & Johannesson, Magnus & Lichtenstein, Paul & Wallace, Björn, 2009. "Higher cognitive ability is associated with lower entries in a p-beauty contest," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 171-175, October.
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