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The survival value of assuming others to be rational


  • Johan Stennek

    () (The Research Institute for Industrial Economics and CEPR, Box 5501, S-114 85 Stockholm, Sweden)


I study the evolution of rationality, using an indirect evolutionary approach, in which nature selects a decision-making procedure, and the procedure chooses actions in matching-games. The main result is that in order for (knowledge of) rationality to survive, it is necessary and sufficient that the rational procedure respects the attraction principle. That is, when a rational agent eliminates a strictly dominated action A, he should only increase the choice probability of the actions actually dominating A and not change the choice probability of other undominated actions. The attraction principle sharpens gametheoretic predictions. Attraction effects have been verified in psychological experiments.

Suggested Citation

  • Johan Stennek, 2000. "The survival value of assuming others to be rational," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 29(2), pages 147-163.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jogath:v:29:y:2000:i:2:p:147-163 Note: Received: November 1997/Final version: January 2000

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John C. Harsanyi & Reinhard Selten, 1988. "A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582384, July.
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    3. Harsanyi John C., 1995. "A New Theory of Equilibrium Selection for Games with Incomplete Information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 318-332, August.
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    5. Farrell, Joseph, 1988. "Communication, coordination and Nash equilibrium," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 209-214.
    6. Straub, Paul G., 1995. "Risk dominance and coordination failures in static games," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 339-363.
    7. Roth, Alvin E, 1980. "Values for Games without Sidepayments: Some Difficulties with Current Concepts," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(2), pages 457-465, March.
    8. Ferreira, Jos e Luis, 1996. "A Communication-Proof Equilibrium Concept," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 249-257, January.
    9. Joseph Farrell & Matthew Rabin, 1996. "Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 10(3), pages 103-118, Summer.
    10. Bernheim, B. Douglas & Peleg, Bezalel & Whinston, Michael D., 1987. "Coalition-Proof Nash Equilibria I. Concepts," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 1-12, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Heller, Yuval, 2015. "Three steps ahead," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 10(1), January.
    2. Mohlin, Erik, 2012. "Evolution of theories of mind," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 299-318.
    3. Heller, Yuval & Mohlin, Erik, 2014. "Coevolution of Deception and Preferences: Darwin and Nash Meet Machiavelli," MPRA Paper 58255, University Library of Munich, Germany.


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