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On the Evolution of Imitative Behavior


  • Jonas Bjoernerstedt
  • Karl H. Schlag


We analyze the evolution of behavioral rules for learning how to play a two-armed bandit. Individuals have no information about the underlying pay-off distributions and have limited memory about their own past experience. Instead they must rely on information obtained through observing the per-formance of other individuals. Evolution is modelled using the replicator dynamic with the revision behaviors as replicators. We find that evolution favors a special class of imitative rules. These so-called strictly improving rules (Schlag, 1996) are found to be neutrally stable when facing any two-armed bandit. Further emphasis is put on which rules survive when.

Suggested Citation

  • Jonas Bjoernerstedt & Karl H. Schlag, "undated". "On the Evolution of Imitative Behavior," ELSE working papers 029, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  • Handle: RePEc:els:esrcls:029

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dekel, Eddie & Scotchmer, Suzanne, 1992. "On the evolution of optimizing behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 392-406, August.
    2. Schlag, Karl H., 1998. "Why Imitate, and If So, How?, : A Boundedly Rational Approach to Multi-armed Bandits," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(1), pages 130-156, January.
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    More about this item


    multi-armed bandit; social learning; payoff increasing; propor- tional imitation rule; replicator dynamic; neutral stability; survival.;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C79 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Other


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