Feature-Based Choice and Similarity in Normal-Form Games: An Experimental Study

43 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2010 Last revised: 28 Feb 2011

See all articles by Giovanna Devetag

Giovanna Devetag

Luiss Guido Carli

Sibilla Di Guida

Department of Business and Economics, Syddansk Universitet

Date Written: October 1, 2010

Abstract

In this paper we test the effect of descriptive “features” on initial strategic behavior in normal form games, where “descriptive” are all those features that can be modified without altering the (Nash) equilibrium structure of a game. We observe that our experimental subjects behave according to some simple heuristics based on descriptive features, and that these heuristics are stable even across strategically different games. This suggests that a categorization of games based on features may be more accurate in predicting agents' initial behavior than the standard categorization based on Nash equilibria, as shown by the analysis of individual behavior. Anaysis of choice patterns and individual response times suggests that non-equilibrium choices may be due to the use of incorrect and simplified mental representations of the game structure, rather than to beliefs in other players' irrationality. Of the four stationary concepts analyzed (Nash equilibrium, QRE, action sampling, and payoff sampling), QRE results the best in fitting the data.

Keywords: normal form games, one-shot games, response times, similarity, categorization, focal points

JEL Classification: C72, C91, C92

Suggested Citation

Devetag, Giovanna and Di Guida, Sibilla, Feature-Based Choice and Similarity in Normal-Form Games: An Experimental Study (October 1, 2010). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1684644 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1684644

Giovanna Devetag (Contact Author)

Luiss Guido Carli ( email )

Via Salvini 2
Roma, 00197
Italy

Sibilla Di Guida

Department of Business and Economics, Syddansk Universitet ( email )

Campusvej 55
Odense M
Denmark

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