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Game Theory and Emotions

Listed author(s):
  • Brams, S.J.

To illustrate the rational-choice modeling of emotions, a game-theoretic model of frustration, in which players respond in anger to their lack of control, is developed. Of the 57 distinct 2 × 2 strict ordinal conflict games, 12 turn out to be `frustration games', in four of which `threat power', based on the theory of moves, offers relief to the frustrated player. Aristophanes' play, Lysistrata , in which the frustrated women induce the men to stop fighting by abstaining from sex, illustrates the exercise of this power. Shakespeare's Macbeth , in which Lady Macbeth, furious at her husband's vacillation, incites him to murder King Duncan, illustrates the choice of `non-myopic equilibria' in six `self-frustration games'. In both cases, the players, who start out at inferior states, move initially to still worse states, exploding in anger to effect better outcomes. Conditions are given for the rationality of such moves.

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Paper provided by C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University in its series Working Papers with number 95-23.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: 1995
Handle: RePEc:cvs:starer:95-23
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Order Information: Postal: C.V. Starr Center, Department of Economics, New York University, 19 W. 4th Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10012

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