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The evolution of Horn's rule

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  • Kris De Jaegher

Abstract

Horn's rule says that messages can be kept ambiguous if only a single interpretation is plausible. Speakers only perform costly disambiguation to convey surprising information. This paper shows that, while non-cooperative game theory cannot justify Horn's rule, evolutionary game theory can. In order to model the evolution of signalling, the pooling equilibrium needs to be one's starting point. But in such an equilibrium, the plausible interpretation is made, and the receiver is therefore already predisposed to interpret absence of a signal as referring to a plausible event. From there on, a marked signal referring to an implausible event can evolve. At the same time, the paper identifies an exception to Horn's rule. If giving a plausible interpretation for an implausible event is very costly, then in the pooling equilibrium the implausible interpretation is always made. In this exceptional case, only an inefficient separating equilibrium disobeying Horn's rule can evolve.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Journal of Economic Methodology.

Volume (Year): 15 (2008)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 275-284

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jecmet:v:15:y:2008:i:3:p:275-284

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Related research

Keywords: Horn's rule; signalling; evolutionary game theory; evolutionary drift; pragmatics;

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  1. Karl H. Schlag, 1995. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi-Armed Bandits," Discussion Paper Serie B 361, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Mar 1996.
  2. Schlag, Karl H., 1994. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Discussion Paper Serie B 296, University of Bonn, Germany.
  3. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
  4. Karl H. Schlag & Dieter Balkenborg, 2001. "Evolutionarily stable sets," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 571-595.
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Cited by:
  1. K.J.M. De Jaegher & R. van Rooij, 2011. "Game-theoretic pragmatics under conflicting and common interests," Working Papers 11-25, Utrecht School of Economics.

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