How do people learn? We assess, in a model-free manner, subjectsʼ belief dynamics in a two-armed bandit learning experiment. A novel feature of our approach is to supplement the choice and reward data with subjectsʼ eye movements during the experiment to pin down estimates of subjectsʼ beliefs. Estimates show that subjects are more reluctant to “update down” following unsuccessful choices, than “update up” following successful choices. The profits from following the estimated learning and decision rules are smaller (by about 25% of average earnings by subjects in this experiment) than what would be obtained from a fully-rational Bayesian learning model, but comparable to the profits from alternative non-Bayesian learning models, including reinforcement learning and a simple “win-stay” choice heuristic.
Nonparametric learning rules from bandit experiments: the eyes have it!
30 September 2013