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Unbeatable imitation

  • Duersch, Peter
  • Oechssler, Jörg
  • Schipper, Burkhard C.

We show that for many classes of symmetric two-player games, the simple decision rule “imitate-if-better” can hardly be beaten by any strategy. We provide necessary and sufficient conditions for imitation to be unbeatable in the sense that there is no strategy that can exploit imitation as a money pump. In particular, imitation is subject to a money pump if and only if the relative payoff function of the game is of the rock–scissors–paper variety. We also show that a sufficient condition for imitation not being subject to a money pump is that the relative payoff game is a generalized ordinal potential game or a quasiconcave game. Our results apply to many interesting examples of symmetric games including 2×2 games, Cournot duopoly, price competition, public goods games, common pool resource games, and minimum effort coordination games.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 76 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 88-96

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:76:y:2012:i:1:p:88-96
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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  1. Schipper, Burkhard C., 2009. "Imitators and optimizers in Cournot oligopoly," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 1981-1990, December.
  2. Apesteguia, Jose & Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Jörg & Weidenholzer, Simon, 2007. "Imitation and the Evolution of Walrasian Behavior: Theoretically Fragile but Behaviorally Robust," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 07-69, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  3. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Submodularity and the Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse4_2003, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Jose Apesteguia & Steffen Huck & Jorg Oechssler, 2003. "Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence," Experimental 0309001, EconWPA.
  5. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Ana Ania, 2005. "The evolutionary stability of perfectly competitive behavior," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 497-516, October.
  6. Burkhard Hehenkamp & Wolfgang Leininger & Alex Possajennikov, 2003. "Evolutionary Equilibrium in Tullock Contests: Spite and Overdissipation," Discussion Papers in Economics 03_01, University of Dortmund, Department of Economics.
  7. Fernando Vega-Redondo, 1997. "The Evolution of Walrasian Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(2), pages 375-384, March.
  8. Huck, Steffen & Normann, Hans-Theo & Oechssler, Jorg, 1999. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly--An Experiment," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 109(454), pages C80-95, March.
  9. Van Huyck, John B & Battalio, Raymond C & Beil, Richard O, 1990. "Tacit Coordination Games, Strategic Uncertainty, and Coordination Failure," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(1), pages 234-48, March.
  10. Schlag, Karl H., 1998. "Why Imitate, and If So, How?, : A Boundedly Rational Approach to Multi-armed Bandits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 130-156, January.
  11. Offerman, Theo & Potters, Jan & Sonnemans, Joep, 2002. "Imitation and Belief Learning in an Oligopoly Experiment," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 973-97, October.
  12. Duersch, Peter & Oechssler, Jörg & Schipper, Burkhard C., 2012. "Once Beaten, Never Again: Imitation in Two-Player Potential Games," Working Papers 0529, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  13. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  14. Walker, James M. & Gardner, Roy & Ostrom, Elinor, 1990. "Rent dissipation in a limited-access common-pool resource: Experimental evidence," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-211, November.
  15. Milgrom, P. & Shannon, C., 1991. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Papers 11, Stanford - Institute for Thoretical Economics.
  16. Duersch, Peter & Oechssler, Jörg & Schipper, Burkhard C., 2010. "Pure Saddle Points and Symmetric Relative Payoff Games," Working Papers 0500, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
  17. Juang, Wei-Torng, 2002. "Rule Evolution and Equilibrium Selection," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 71-90, April.
  18. Peter Duersch & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2010. "Pure Strategy Equilibria in Symmetric Two-Player Zero-Sum Games," Working Papers 1021, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  19. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  20. Ana B. Ania, 2005. "Evolutionary stability and Nash equilibrium in finite populations, with an application to price competition," Vienna Economics Papers 0601, University of Vienna, Department of Economics.
  21. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  22. Peter Duersch & Albert Kolb & Jörg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2010. "Rage against the machines: how subjects play against learning algorithms," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 43(3), pages 407-430, June.
  23. AMIR, Rabah, 1994. "Cournot Oligopoly and the Theory of Supermodular Games," CORE Discussion Papers 1994013, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  24. Nash, John, 1953. "Two-Person Cooperative Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 21(1), pages 128-140, April.
  25. repec:ner:tilbur:urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-91663 is not listed on IDEAS
  26. Duersch, Peter & Oechssler, Joerg & Schipper, Burkhard C, 2010. "Pure Saddle Points and Symmetric Relative Payoff Games," MPRA Paper 20864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  27. Schaffer, Mark E., 1989. "Are profit-maximisers the best survivors? : A Darwinian model of economic natural selection," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 29-45, August.
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