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Superstition and Rational Learning

  • Drew Fudenberg
  • David K. Levine

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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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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  1. Fudenberg, Drew & Kreps, David M. & Levine, David K., 1988. "On the robustness of equilibrium refinements," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 354-380, April.
  2. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K., 1991. "Self-Confirming Equilibrium ," Working papers 581, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David, 1999. "Conditional Universal Consistency," Scholarly Articles 3204826, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Ariel Rubinstein & Asher Wolinsky, 1991. "Rationalizable Conjectural Equilibrium: Between Nash and Rationalizability," Discussion Papers 933, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. 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.
  6. David Kreps & Robert Wilson, 1998. "Sequential Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 237, David K. Levine.
  7. 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.
  8. Jehiel, Philippe & Samet, Dov, 2005. "Learning to play games in extensive form by valuation," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 129-148, October.
  9. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1993. "Steady State Learning and Nash Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 373, David K. Levine.
  10. 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.
  11. Ehud Kalai & Alejandro Neme, 1989. "The Strength of a Little Perfection," Discussion Papers 858, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  12. 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.
  13. Hart, Sergiu, 2002. "Evolutionary dynamics and backward induction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 227-264, November.
  14. Lambson, Val E. & Probst, Daniel A., 2004. "Learning by matching patterns," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 46(2), pages 398-409, February.
  15. Robert J. Aumann, 2010. "Correlated Equilibrium as an expression of Bayesian Rationality," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000377, David K. Levine.
  16. Fudenberg, Drew & Kreps, David M., 1995. "Learning in extensive-form games I. Self-confirming equilibria," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 20-55.
  17. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1997. "Measuring Players' Losses in Experimental Games," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(2), pages 507-536.
  18. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1996. "Measuring Subject’s Losses in Experimental Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 370, David K. Levine.
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