On the short horizon of spontaneous iterative reasoning in logical puzzles and games

Ketti Mazzocco, Anna Maria Cherubini, Paolo Cherubini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A reasoning strategy is iterative when the initial conclusion suggested by a set of premises is integrated into that set of premises in order to yield additional conclusions. Previous experimental studies on game theory-based strategic games (such as the beauty contest game) observed difficulty in reasoning iteratively, which has been partly attributed to bounded individual rationality. However, this difficulty has also been attributed to problems in adequately representing the beliefs, actions, and goals of other agents involved in the games. In four experiments, we observed similar difficulties in iterative reasoning in a variety of puzzles and games that did not involve social interactions with other agents, where they can only be caused by individual cognitive boundaries. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that an intrinsic difficulty in iterative reasoning originates from a tendency not to revise our initial mental representation of a problem in light of the initial conclusions that it implies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-40
Number of pages17
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Beauty contest game
  • Decision making
  • Mental models
  • Problem solving
  • Reasoning
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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