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Superstition and Rational Learning

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  • Drew Fudenberg
  • David K. Levine

Abstract

We argue that some, but not all, superstitions can persist when learning is rational and players are patient, and illustrate our argument with an example inspired by the Code of Hammurabi. The code specified an "appeal by surviving in the river" as a way of deciding whether an accusation was true. According to our theory, a mechanism that uses superstitions two or more steps off the equilibrium path, such as "appeal by surviving in the river," is more likely to persist than a superstition where the false beliefs are only one step off the equilibrium path. (JEL C72, C73, D83, D84)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.96.3.630
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 96 (2006)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 630-651

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:96:y:2006:i:3:p:630-651

Note: DOI: 10.1257/aer.96.3.630
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References

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  1. Foster, Dean P. & Vohra, Rakesh V., 1997. "Calibrated Learning and Correlated Equilibrium," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 40-55, October.
  2. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-94, July.
  3. Robert J. Aumann, 2010. "Correlated Equilibrium as an expression of Bayesian Rationality," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000377, David K. Levine.
  4. Eddie Dekel & Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, . "Payoff Information and Self-Confirming Equilibrium," ELSE working papers 032, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  5. Hart, Sergiu, 2002. "Evolutionary dynamics and backward induction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 227-264, November.
  6. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K., 1991. "Self-Confirming Equilibrium ," Working papers 581, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  7. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 1999. "Conditional Universal Consistency," Scholarly Articles 3204826, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Philippe Jehiel & Dov Samet, 2001. "Learning To Play Games In Extensive Form By Valuation," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 391749000000000010, www.najecon.org.
  9. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K, 1993. "Steady State Learning and Nash Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 547-73, May.
  10. Kalai, E & Neme, A, 1992. "The Strength of a Little Perfection," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 20(4), pages 335-55.
  11. Levine, David & Kreps, David & Fudenberg, Drew, 1988. "On the Robustness of Equilibrium Refinements," Scholarly Articles 3350444, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Rubinstein Ariel & Wolinsky Asher, 1994. "Rationalizable Conjectural Equilibrium: Between Nash and Rationalizability," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 6(2), pages 299-311, March.
  13. Lambson, Val E. & Probst, Daniel A., 2004. "Learning by matching patterns," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 398-409, February.
  14. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1996. "Measuring Subject’s Losses in Experimental Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 370, David K. Levine.
  15. Aoyagi, Masaki, 1996. "Evolution of Beliefs and the Nash Equilibrium of Normal Form Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 444-469, August.
  16. Levine, David & Fudenberg, Drew, 1997. "Measuring Players' Losses in Experimental Games," Scholarly Articles 3160492, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  17. Noldeke Georg & Samuelson Larry, 1993. "An Evolutionary Analysis of Backward and Forward Induction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(3), pages 425-454, July.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Johnson, Noel D. & Nye, John V.C., 2011. "Does fortune favor dragons?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 78(1-2), pages 85-97, April.
  2. Paolo E. Giordani & Michele Ruta, 2012. "Self-Confirming Immigration Policy," CESifo Working Paper Series 3762, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Pierpaolo Battigalli & Simone Cerreia-Vioglio & Fabio Maccheroni & Massimo Marinacci, 2011. "Selfconfirming Equilibrium and Uncertainty," Working Papers 428, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  4. Ng, Travis & Chong, Terence & Du, Xin, 2010. "The value of superstitions," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 293-309, June.
  5. Drew Fudenberg & David K Levine, 2007. "Self Confirming Equilibrium and the Lucas Critique," Levine's Working Paper Archive 843644000000000022, David K. Levine.
  6. P Battigalli & S Cerreia-Vioglio & F Maccheroni & M Marinacci, 2012. "Selfconfirming Equilibrium and Model Uncertainty," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000376, David K. Levine.
  7. Robert Meyer & Joachim Vosgerau & Vishal Singh & Joel Urbany & Gal Zauberman & Michael Norton & Tony Cui & Brian Ratchford & Alessandro Acquisti & David Bell & Barbara Kahn, 2010. "Behavioral research and empirical modeling of marketing channels: Implications for both fields and a call for future research," Marketing Letters, Springer, vol. 21(3), pages 301-315, September.
  8. Zacharias Maniadis, 2008. "Essays in Aggregate Information, The Media and Special Interests," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000002258, David K. Levine.
  9. Woo, Chi-Keung & Horowitz, Ira & Luk, Stephen & Lai, Aaron, 2008. "Willingness to pay and nuanced cultural cues: Evidence from Hong Kong's license-plate auction market," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 35-53, February.

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