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Rock–Scissors–Paper and evolutionarily stable strategies


  • Loertscher, Simon


This paper argues that Rock–Scissors–Paper is a stochastic game with discounting. Provided that the discount factor is less than 1, it has an evolutionarily stable strategy (ESS). This result contrasts with the one-shot normal form game, which is the customary representation of Rock–Scissors–Paper. It reconciles the finding that mutant players who tie against each other forever are never observed in real-world play of Rock–Scissors–Paper with a basic prediction of evolutionary game theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Loertscher, Simon, 2013. "Rock–Scissors–Paper and evolutionarily stable strategies," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 118(3), pages 473-474.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:118:y:2013:i:3:p:473-474 DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2012.12.017

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Walker, Mark & Wooders, John & Amir, Rabah, 2011. "Equilibrium play in matches: Binary Markov games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 487-502, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ɖura-Georg Granić & Johannes Kern, 2016. "Circulant games," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 80(1), pages 43-69, January.

    More about this item


    Rock–Scissors–Paper; ESS; Stochastic games with discounting;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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