Date of Award
Honors Thesis (Colby Access Only)
Colby College. Economics Dept.
Game theorists consider games to be strategic situations in which there is interdependence among the players (decision makers). I am interested in whether players learn merely by having acquired experience in playing games. Specifically, I am looking to quantify the ability of students to apply strategies learned in a simple game, to a more complicated setting in which the same type of knowledge is needed to be successful. My focus is on how players learn backward induction and whether they can leverage this insight in a more complex setting. To gain insight into this, I ran experiments with Colby student participants in which they played different versions of multi-player ultimatum game. I had participants play a simple three-player version of the game and released differing amounts of insight into the optimal solution, then had them play a more difficult, five-player version of the game. These treatments exposed students to different degrees of information and helped facilitate my identification of no, partial, or complete learning. Ultimately, I found that while very few students played optimally in the fiveplayer game, the treatment groups receiving the most information about optimal allocation and strategy in the three-player game performed best in the five-player game. These results suggest that students require substantial information about the outcome of a game and the optimal strategy in that game to appropriately apply strategies to a more complex setting.
gaming, strategy, game theory, decision making
Recommended CitationOjerholm, Alexandra, "Learning By Playing: Evaluating Backward Induction" (2014). Honors Theses. Paper 876.