Special Issue "Psychological Perspectives on Simple Games"

A special issue of Games (ISSN 2073-4336). This special issue belongs to the section "Behavioral and Experimental Game Theory".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 November 2021.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Ben Dyson
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department Of Psychology, P-217 Biological Sciences Building, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada
Interests: decision-making; win-stay; lose-shift; zero-sum games; Rock Paper Scissors; Matching Pennies; electrophysiology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The use of simple games (such as Matching Pennies, or, Rock Paper Scissors) as a paradigm for understanding behaviour is attractive for a number of reasons. Optimal or ‘rational’ response patterns can be clearly defined and compared with actual performance. Play can be established between other individuals or automated opponents, where characteristics in the latter case can be perfectly controlled. Simple games are resolved quickly, allowing for fast cycles of repeated play and an examination of sequential effects in behaviour. Finally, simple games are often both intuitive and fun to play, helping to maintain participant engagement in a laboratory setting. As such, simple games are well positioned to provide a fluid route to novel insights into psychological phenomena.

I encourage a diverse range of submissions that use simple games as a paradigm to examine core aspects of any sub-field of psychology (e.g., cognitive, comparative, developmental, educational, health, personality, social). The aim of the Special Issue is to highlight new research that represents the range of intersections between simple game paradigms and psychology, to see more clearly the connections between individual strands of psychology, and finally, to establish new points of contact between psychology and other disciplines that also use simple games as a core methodology.

Dr. Ben Dyson
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Games is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • competitive games
  • collaborative games
  • zero-sum games
  • simple games
  • psychology

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Article
Formalizing Opponent Modeling with the Rock, Paper, Scissors Game
Games 2021, 12(3), 70; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/g12030070 (registering DOI) - 16 Sep 2021
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Abstract
In simple dyadic games such as rock, paper, scissors (RPS), people exhibit peculiar sequential dependencies across repeated interactions with a stable opponent. These regularities seem to arise from a mutually adversarial process of trying to outwit their opponent. What underlies this process, and [...] Read more.
In simple dyadic games such as rock, paper, scissors (RPS), people exhibit peculiar sequential dependencies across repeated interactions with a stable opponent. These regularities seem to arise from a mutually adversarial process of trying to outwit their opponent. What underlies this process, and what are its limits? Here, we offer a novel framework for formally describing and quantifying human adversarial reasoning in the rock, paper, scissors game. We first show that this framework enables a precise characterization of the complexity of patterned behaviors that people exhibit themselves, and appear to exploit in others. This combination allows for a quantitative understanding of human opponent modeling abilities. We apply these tools to an experiment in which people played 300 rounds of RPS in stable dyads. We find that although people exhibit very complex move dependencies, they cannot exploit these dependencies in their opponents, indicating a fundamental limitation in people’s capacity for adversarial reasoning. Taken together, the results presented here show how the rock, paper, scissors game allows for precise formalization of human adaptive reasoning abilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological Perspectives on Simple Games)
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Article
Champ versus Chump: Viewing an Opponent’s Face Engages Attention but Not Reward Systems
Games 2021, 12(3), 62; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/g12030062 - 31 Jul 2021
Viewed by 442
Abstract
When we play competitive games, the opponents that we face act as predictors of the outcome of the game. For instance, if you are an average chess player and you face a Grandmaster, you anticipate a loss. Framed in a reinforcement learning perspective, [...] Read more.
When we play competitive games, the opponents that we face act as predictors of the outcome of the game. For instance, if you are an average chess player and you face a Grandmaster, you anticipate a loss. Framed in a reinforcement learning perspective, our opponents can be thought of as predictors of rewards and punishments. The present study investigates whether facing an opponent would be processed as a reward or punishment depending on the level of difficulty the opponent poses. Participants played Rock, Paper, Scissors against three computer opponents while electroencephalographic (EEG) data was recorded. In a key manipulation, one opponent (HARD) was programmed to win most often, another (EASY) was made to lose most often, and the third (AVERAGE) had equiprobable outcomes of wins, losses, and ties. Through practice, participants learned to anticipate the relative challenge of a game based on the opponent they were facing that round. An analysis of our EEG data revealed that winning outcomes elicited a reward positivity relative to losing outcomes. Interestingly, our analysis of the predictive cues (i.e., the opponents’ faces) demonstrated that attentional engagement (P3a) was contextually sensitive to anticipated game difficulty. As such, our results for the predictive cue are contrary to what one might expect for a reinforcement model associated with predicted reward, but rather demonstrate that the neural response to the predictive cue was encoding the level of engagement with the opponent as opposed to value relative to the anticipated outcome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological Perspectives on Simple Games)
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Article
Rock-Paper-Scissors Play: Beyond the Win-Stay/Lose-Change Strategy
Games 2021, 12(3), 52; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/g12030052 - 22 Jun 2021
Viewed by 595
Abstract
This research studied the strategies that players use in sequential adversarial games. We took the Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) game as an example and ran players in two experiments. The first experiment involved two humans, who played the RPS together for 100 times. Importantly, our [...] Read more.
This research studied the strategies that players use in sequential adversarial games. We took the Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) game as an example and ran players in two experiments. The first experiment involved two humans, who played the RPS together for 100 times. Importantly, our payoff design in the RPS allowed us to differentiate between participants who used a random strategy from those who used a Nash strategy. We found that participants did not play in agreement with the Nash strategy, but rather, their behavior was closer to random. Moreover, the analyses of the participants’ sequential actions indicated heterogeneous cycle-based behaviors: some participants’ actions were independent of their past outcomes, some followed a well-known win-stay/lose-change strategy, and others exhibited the win-change/lose-stay behavior. To understand the sequential patterns of outcome-dependent actions, we designed probabilistic computer algorithms involving specific change actions (i.e., to downgrade or upgrade according to the immediate past outcome): the Win-Downgrade/Lose-Stay (WDLS) or Win-Stay/Lose-Upgrade (WSLU) strategies. Experiment 2 used these strategies against a human player. Our findings show that participants followed a win-stay strategy against the WDLS algorithm and a lose-change strategy against the WSLU algorithm, while they had difficulty in using an upgrade/downgrade direction, suggesting humans’ limited ability to detect and counter the actions of the algorithm. Taken together, our two experiments showed a large diversity of sequential strategies, where the win-stay/lose-change strategy did not describe the majority of human players’ dynamic behaviors in this adversarial situation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychological Perspectives on Simple Games)
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