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Unpublished Paper
A Step Ahead? Experienced Play in the P-Beauty Game
  • Jeffrey A Livingston
  • Susan Skeath, Wellesley College

In the "p-beauty" contest, contestants choose a number between zero and 100 and the winner is the player who selects the number that is closest to some fraction p of the average chosen by the group. While the Nash equilibrium is for all players to choose 0, subjects frequently display bounded rationality by choosing numbers that are substantially higher. However, as the game is repeated, players learn from experience and play converges towards prediction. This study explores how players learn by examining how players who are experienced with the game behave when competing against opponents who they know have never seen the game before. We find that experienced players outperform inexperienced players on average, but there is a great deal of variation in their play and they respond to mistakes no better than inexperienced players; accordingly, experienced players are not much more likely to win than their inexperienced opponents. We argue that this results are in accordance with models of learning that rely on simple pattern recognition rather than a more sophisticated process of formation of beliefs about the strategies followed by opponents.

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Citation Information
Jeffrey A Livingston and Susan Skeath. "A Step Ahead? Experienced Play in the P-Beauty Game" (2014)
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