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Promises and conventions – An approach to pre-play agreements

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  • Miettinen, Topi

Abstract

I analyze how informal agreements can be sustained by moral emotions with regard to a large class of two-player games. Specifically, I assume that people feel guilty if they breach an agreement and that the guilt increases according to the degree of the harm inflicted on the other. A central insight is that it is easier to sustain efficient informal agreements if actions are strategic complements than if they are strategic substitutes. I complement this general insight by studying two specific cases where negotiators face uncertainty about the breach of the agreement. I show that while the optimal agreement in a game with strategic substitutes must compromise on surplus-maximization and efficiency, the optimal agreement in a game with sufficiently strong strategic complements tends to maximize both the surplus and the probability of compliance especially if the game is symmetric.

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  • Miettinen, Topi, 2013. "Promises and conventions – An approach to pre-play agreements," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 68-84.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:80:y:2013:i:c:p:68-84
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2013.03.002
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    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C78 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Bargaining Theory; Matching Theory
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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