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Predicting How People Play Games: Reinforcement Learning in Experimental Games with Unique, Mixed Strategy Equilibria

Ido Erev and Alvin Roth ()

American Economic Review, 1998, vol. 88, issue 4, 848-81

Abstract: The authors examine learning in all experiments they could locate involving one hundred periods or more of games with a unique equilibrium in mixed strategies, and in a new experiment. They study both the ex post ('best fit') descriptive power of learning models, and their ex ante predictive power, by simulating each experiment using parameters estimated from the other experiments. Even a one-parameter reinforcement learning model robustly outperforms the equilibrium predictions. Predictive power is improved by adding 'forgetting' and 'experimentation,' or by allowing greater rationality as in probabilistic fictitious play. Implications for developing a low-rationality, cognitive game theory are discussed. Copyright 1998 by American Economic Association.

Date: 1998
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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:88:y:1998:i:4:p:848-81