In this paper, we claim that agents confronting with new interactive situations apply behavioral heuristics that drastically reduce the problem complexity either by neglecting the other players' incentives, or by restricting attention to subsets of 'salient' outcomes. We postulate that these heuristics are sensitive to the manipulation of those features that can be modified without altering the (Nash) equilibrium structure of the game. We call these features 'descriptive'. We test experimentally the effect of these descriptive features on both choice behavior and cross-game similarity perception. Analysis of individual choices confirms our hypotheses, and suggests that non-equilibrium choices may derive from simplified mental models of the game structure, rather than from heterogeneous beliefs or limited iterative thinking. In addition, subjects tend to behave similarly in games sharing similar descriptive features, regardless of their strategic structure.
cross-game similarity categorization focal point behavioral heuristic individual behavior one-shot game response time