Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics

CeDEx Seminar - Giorgio Coricelli (University of Southern California)

A40 Sir Clive Granger
Wednesday 23rd May 2018 (14:00-15:00)

Strategizing and attention in games

I will first present studies about the neural correlates of strategic reasoning. Neuroimaging results from the beauty contest game identify a network associated with strategic thinking, thus showing a correlation of brain activity in several portions of the prefrontal cortex with increasing levels of strategic sophistication. Similar brain network plays a crucial role in complex strategic settings, such as games with strategic sustainability and games with asymmetric equilibria. Additionally, I will show how the brain does not distinguish learning from reasoning, thus showing the involvement of similar neural network in learning and thinking at the same level of strategic sophistication. I will then present the results of two related experimental studies (work in collaboration with Luca Polonio) in which we used eye-tracking to measure the dynamic patterns of visual information acquisition in games. In a first study, participants played one-shot two-player normal-form games in which either, neither, or only one of the players had a dominant strategy. Our method allowed us to predict whether the decision process would lead to equilibrium choices or not, and to attribute out-of-equilibrium responses to limited cognitive capacities or social motives. Our results suggest the existence of individually heterogeneous-but-stable patterns of visual information acquisition based on subjective levels of strategic sophistication and social preferences. In a second study we used eye-tracking technique to test whether players’ actions are consistent with their expectations of their opponent’s behavior. Participants played a series of two-player 3 by 3 one-shot games and stated their beliefs about which actions they expect their counterpart to play (first-order beliefs) or about which actions their counterparts expect them to play (second-order beliefs). Using eye-tracking study we could identify a larger consistency between actions and stated beliefs compared with previous studies, and we could characterize the behavioral rules associated with choice-beliefs inconsistency. Implications for the theories of bounded rationality will be discussed.

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