Learning in Two-Dimensional Beauty Contest Games: Theory and Evidence
88 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2019 Last revised: 11 Sep 2021
Date Written: June 12, 2019
We introduce a planar beauty contest game where agents must simultaneously guess two, endogenously determined variables, a and b. The system of equations determining the actual values of a and b is a coupled system; while the realization of a depends on the average forecast for a, as in a standard beauty contest game, the realization of b depends on both the average forecasts for a and for b. Our aim is to better understand the conditions under which agents learn the steady state of such systems and whether the eigenvalues of the system matter for the convergence or divergence of this learning process. We find that agents are able to learn the steady state of the system when the eigenvalues are both less than 1 in absolute value (the sink property) or when the steady state is saddlepath stable with the one root outside the unit circle being negative. By contrast, when the steady state exhibits the source property (two unstable roots) or is saddlepath stable with the one root outside the unit circle being positive, subjects are unable to learn the steady state of the system. We show that these results can be explained by either an adaptive learning model or a mixed cognitive levels model, while other approaches, e.g., naive or homogeneous level-k learning, do not consistently predict whether subjects converge
to or diverge away from the steady state.
Keywords: Beauty Contest, Learning, Stability, Simultaneous Equation Systems, Level-k theory, Cognitive hierarchy model, Experimental Economics
JEL Classification: C30, C92, D83, D84
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation