Date of Original Version
Games and Economic Behavior (in Press)
Abstract or Table of Contents
Psychologists have long recognized two kinds of learning: one that is relatively shallow and domain-specific; and another that is deeper, producing generalizable insights that transfer across domains. The game theory literature has only recently considered this distinction, and the conditions that stimulate the latter kind of “meaningful” learning in games are still unclear. Three experiments demonstrate that meaningful learning – the acquisition of the principle of iterated dominance – occurs in the absence of any feedback. We also demonstrate that meaningful learning transfers to new but strategically similar games, and that such transfer does not occur when prior games are played with feedback. The effects of withholding feedback are similar to, and substitutable with, those produced by requiring players to “self-explain” (provide written explanations for behavior), a method commonly employed in psychology to increase deliberation. This similarity suggests that withholding feedback encourages players to think more deeply about the game.