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M Equilibrium: A dual theory of beliefs and choices in games

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  • Jacob K. Goeree
  • Philippos Louis

Abstract

We introduce a set-valued generalization of Nash equilibrium, called M equilibrium, which is based on ordinal monotonicity - players' choice probabilities are ranked the same as the expected payoffs based on their beliefs - and ordinal consistency - players' beliefs yield the same ranking of expected payoffs as their choices. Using results from semi-algebraic geometry, we prove there exist a finite number of M equilibria, each consisting of a finite number of connected components. Generically, M-equilibria can be "color coded" by their ranks in the sense that choices and beliefs belonging to the same M equilibrium have the same color. We show that colorable M equilibria are behaviorally stable, a concept that strengthens strategic stability. Furthermore, set-valued and parameter-free M equilibrium envelopes various parametric models based on fixed-points, including QRE as well as a new and computationally simpler class of models called {\mu} Equilibrium. We report the results of several experiments designed to contrast M equilibrium predictions with those of existing behavioral game-theory models. A first experiment considers five variations of an asymmetric-matching pennies game that leave the predictions of Nash, various versions of QRE, and level-k unaltered. However, observed choice frequencies differ substantially and significantly across games as do players' beliefs. Moreover, beliefs and choices are heterogeneous and beliefs do not match choices in any of the games. These findings contradict existing behavioral game-theory models but accord well with the unique M equilibrium. Follow up experiments employ 3 by 3 games with a unique pure-strategy Nash equilibrium and multiple M equilibria. The belief and choice data exhibit coordination problems that could not be anticipated through the lens of existing behavioral game-theory models.

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  • Jacob K. Goeree & Philippos Louis, 2018. "M Equilibrium: A dual theory of beliefs and choices in games," Papers 1811.05138, arXiv.org.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1811.05138
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    File URL: http://arxiv.org/pdf/1811.05138
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Karl Schlag & James Tremewan & Joël Weele, 2015. "A penny for your thoughts: a survey of methods for eliciting beliefs," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 18(3), pages 457-490, September.
    2. Philip A. Haile & Ali Hortaçsu & Grigory Kosenok, 2008. "On the Empirical Content of Quantal Response Equilibrium," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(1), pages 180-200, March.
    3. Jacob K. Goeree & Philippos Louis & Jingjing Zhang, 2018. "Noisy Introspection in the 11–20 Game," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 128(611), pages 1509-1530, June.
    4. Andrew Schotter & Isabel Trevino, 2014. "Belief Elicitation in the Laboratory," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 103-128, August.
    5. Jacob K. Goeree & Charles A. Holt & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2016. "Quantal Response Equilibrium:A Stochastic Theory of Games," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10743.
    6. Nagel, Rosemarie, 1995. "Unraveling in Guessing Games: An Experimental Study," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(5), pages 1313-1326, December.
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