Learning in strategic interaction

Learning in the context of strategic interaction is associated with interesting challenges and opportunities.

For example, in games of strategic interaction such as Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) and Chicken Game (CG), learning must occur not only at an individual level but also at a dyad level. If learning only occurs in one individual in a dyad, the outcomes are disastrous for that individual. For example, if only one player understands that alternating between the two moves is the best long-term solution in CG, the outcome for that player can be a sequence of -1 and -10 payoffs. Only if both players understand the value of alternation, are willing to alternate, and able to synchronize their individual alternations, the result will be a sequence of 10 and -1 payoffs for each player, which in average gives each player a payoff of 4.5 points per round. Thus, the context of interdependence makes unilateral individual learning not only useless but also detrimental. The two players must jointly learn that only a solution that maximizes joint payoff is viable in the long term. This fact is true for both PD and CG in spite of the apparent differences between the two games. However, the jointly optimal solution carries the most risk and is thus unstable in the long term: each player has a short-term incentive to unilaterally depart from the mutually beneficial solution. To ensure that the jointly optimal solution is maintained from one round to another, players develop reciprocal trust to mitigate the risk associated with this solution. We study the dynamics of learning and trust development in games of various complexities.  

Another example comes from the area of team-based learning (TBL). There is evidence that TBL is superior to classical classroom instruction in terms of learning experiences and outcomes.  We study what factors explain the impact of strategic interaction on individual learning.