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Unbeatable Imitation

  • Peter Duersch
  • Joerg Oechssler
  • Burkhard Schipper

    (Department of Economics, University of California Davis)

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 x 2 games, Cournot duopoly, price competition, public goods games, common pool resource games, and minimum effort coordination games.

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File URL: http://wp.econ.ucdavis.edu/12-5.pdf
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Paper provided by University of California, Davis, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 125.

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Length: 18
Date of creation: 17 Apr 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cda:wpaper:12-5
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  1. Peter Duersch & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard C. Schipper, 2010. "Pure Saddle Points and Symmetric Relative Payoff Games," Working Papers 104, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  2. Schlag, Karl H., 1994. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? Exploring a Model of Social Evolution," Discussion Paper Serie B 296, University of Bonn, Germany.
  3. Burkhard Schipper, 2002. "Imitators and Optimizers in Cournot Oligopoly," Bonn Econ Discussion Papers bgse29_2002, University of Bonn, Germany.
  4. Milgrom, Paul & Shannon, Chris, 1994. "Monotone Comparative Statics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(1), pages 157-80, January.
  5. Monderer, Dov & Shapley, Lloyd S., 1996. "Potential Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 124-143, May.
  6. Peter Duersch & Joerg Oechssler & Burkhard Schipper, 2011. "Once Beaten, Never Again: Imitation in Two-Player Potential Games," Working Papers 1112, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  7. 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).
  8. Apesteguia, Jose & Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Joerg, 2003. "Imitation - Theory and Experimental Evidence," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3h0887tj, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  9. J. B. Van Huyck & R. C. Battalio & R. O. Beil, 2010. "Tacit coordination games, strategic uncertainty, and coordination failure," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000393, David K. Levine.
  10. Karl H. Schlag, 1995. "Why Imitate, and if so, How? A Bounded Rational Approach to Multi-Armed Bandits," Discussion Paper Serie B 361, University of Bonn, Germany, revised Mar 1996.
  11. Steffen Huck & Hans-Theo Normann & Joerg Oechssler, 1997. "Learning in Cournot Oligopoly - An Experiment," Game Theory and Information 9707009, EconWPA, revised 22 Jul 1997.
  12. 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.
  13. Nash, John, 1953. "Two-Person Cooperative Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 21(1), pages 128-140, April.
  14. Juang, Wei-Torng, 2002. "Rule Evolution and Equilibrium Selection," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 71-90, April.
  15. 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.
  16. Ania, Ana B., 2008. "Evolutionary stability and Nash equilibrium in finite populations, with an application to price competition," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(3-4), pages 472-488, March.
  17. Fernando Vega Redondo, 1996. "The evolution of walrasian behavior," Working Papers. Serie AD 1996-05, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).
  18. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters, in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar.
  19. Burkhard C. Schipper, 2004. "Submodularity and the evolution of Walrasian behavior," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 32(4), pages 471-477, 08.
  20. Apesteguia, Jose & Huck, Steffen & Oechssler, Jörg & Weidenholzer, Simon, 2010. "Imitation and the evolution of Walrasian behavior: Theoretically fragile but behaviorally robust," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 145(5), pages 1603-1617, September.
  21. 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.
  22. Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John, 1990. "Rationalizability, Learning, and Equilibrium in Games with Strategic Complementarities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(6), pages 1255-77, November.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Carlos Alós-Ferrer & Ana Ania, 2005. "The evolutionary stability of perfectly competitive behavior," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 497-516, October.
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