Date of Original Version

4-1-2003

Type

Article

Abstract or Description

This paper explores the extent to which people learn in repeated games without feedback, and the extent to which this learning transfers to new games. Current theories of learning model learning as adjustment in behavior in response to feedback about outcomes and payoffs and largely ignore the possibility that learning may take place in the absence of such feedback. An earlier paper (Weber, in press) demonstrates that convergence towards equilibrium can occur even in the absence of any feedback between plays of the game. However, this previous work demonstrates this “no-feedback” learning using a special game with properties that might facilitate this kind of learning and does not clearly identify mechanisms through which this learning might take place. The current paper extends this previous work. Using an experiment in which subjects play four games without feedback, the experiment allows a stronger test of “no-feedback learning” as well as a better understanding of the mechanism by which this learning occurs. The results show that, in every game, players behavior adjusts over time in the direction of Nash equilibrium. Subjects also appear to acquire principles useful in playing games – specifically, iterated dominance – and then apply these principles when playing subsequent games, demonstrating transfer of learning.

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