IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Language, meaning and games A model of communication, coordination and evolution

  • Stefano Demichelis

    (University of Pavia - Department of Mathematics)

  • Jörgen Weibull

    (SSE - Department of Economics - Stockholm School of Economics, Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X)

Language is arguably a powerful coordination device in real-life interactions. We here develop a game-theoretic model of pre-play communication that generalizes the cheap-talk approach by way of introducing a meaning correspondence between messages and actions, and postulating two axioms met by natural languages. Deviations from this correspondence are called dishonest and players have a lexicographic preference for honesty, second to material payoffs. The model is first applied to two-sided preplay communication in finite and symmetric two-player games and we establish that, in generic and symmetric n × n - coordination games, a Nash equilibrium component in such a lexicographic communication game is evolutionarily stable if and only if it results in the unique Pareto efficient outcome of the underlying game. We extend the approach to one-sided communication in finite, not necessarily symmetric, two-player games.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number hal-00354224.

in new window

Date of creation: Jan 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00354224
Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:
Contact details of provider: Web page:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Ingela Alger & Régis Renault, 2006. "Screening Ethics When Honest Agents Care About Fairness ," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 47(1), pages 59-85, 02.
  2. Blume, A. & Kim, Y.G. & Sobel, J., 1993. "Evolutionary Stability in Games of Communication," Working Papers 93-07, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  3. Benabou, R. & Laroque, G., 1988. "Using Privileged Information To Manipulate Markets: Insiders, Gurus And Credibility," Papers 19, Princeton, Woodrow Wilson School - Discussion Paper.
  4. E. Kohlberg & J.-F. Mertens, 1998. "On the Strategic Stability of Equilibria," Levine's Working Paper Archive 445, David K. Levine.
  5. Robson, A.J., 1989. "Efficiency In Evolutionary Games: Darwin, Nash And Secret Handshake," Papers 89-22, Michigan - Center for Research on Economic & Social Theory.
  6. Binmore, K. & Samuelson, L., 1991. "Evolutionary Stability in Repeated Game Played by Finite Automata," Papers 9131, Tilburg - Center for Economic Research.
  7. John Conlisk, 2001. "Costly Predation and the Distribution of Competence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 475-484, June.
  8. Andreas Blume, 1993. "Communication, Risk and Efficiency in Games," Game Theory and Information 9312002, EconWPA.
  9. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1990. "Evolution and Cooperation in Noisy Repeated Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(2), pages 274-79, May.
  10. Ingela Brundin & Ching-to Albert Ma, 1998. "Moral Hazard, Insurance, and Some Collusion," Papers 0089, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  11. Binmore, Kenneth G. & Samuelson, Larry, 1992. "Evolutionary stability in repeated games played by finite automata," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 278-305, August.
  12. Lundquist, Tobias & Ellingsen, Tore & Gribbe, Erik & Johannesson, Magnus, 2007. "The cost of lying," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 666, Stockholm School of Economics.
  13. Gary Charness & Martin Dufwenberg, 2004. "Promises and Partnership," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000001, UCLA Department of Economics.
  14. Martin J Osborne & Ariel Rubinstein, 2009. "A Course in Game Theory," Levine's Bibliography 814577000000000225, UCLA Department of Economics.
  15. Ariel Rubinstein, 1997. "Finite automata play the repeated prisioners dilemma," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1639, David K. Levine.
  16. Clark, K. & Kay, S. & Sefton, M, 1997. "When Are Nash Equilibria Self Enforcing ? An Experimental Analysis," Working Papers 97-04, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  17. Crawford, Vincent P., 2001. "Lying for Strategic Advantage: Rational and Boundedly Rational Misrepresentation of Intentions," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt6k65014s, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  18. Kim, Y.G. & Sobel, J., 1993. "An Evolutionary Approach to Pre-Play Communication," Working Papers 93-02, University of Iowa, Department of Economics.
  19. Binmore, K. & samuelson, L., 1996. "Muddling Through : Noisy Equilibrium Section," Working papers 9410r, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  20. Navin Kartik, 2005. "Information Transmission with Cheap and Almost-Cheap Talk," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 666156000000000650,
  21. V. Crawford & J. Sobel, 2010. "Strategic Information Transmission," Levine's Working Paper Archive 544, David K. Levine.
  22. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
  23. Sobel, Joel, 1993. "Evolutionary stability and efficiency," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 42(2-3), pages 301-312.
  24. Crawford, Vincent, 1998. "A Survey of Experiments on Communication via Cheap Talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 286-298, February.
  25. Karl WÄrneryd, 1998. "Communication, complexity, and evolutionary stability," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(4), pages 599-609.
  26. Gale, John & Binmore, Kenneth G. & Samuelson, Larry, 1995. "Learning to be imperfect: The ultimatum game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 56-90.
  27. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2004. "Promises, Threats and Fairness," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 114(495), pages 397-420, 04.
  28. Blume, Andreas & Ortmann, Andreas, 2007. "The effects of costless pre-play communication: Experimental evidence from games with Pareto-ranked equilibria," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 274-290, January.
  29. Binmore, K. & Samuelson, L. & Gale, J., 1993. "Learning to be Imperfect: The Ultimatum Game," Working papers 9325, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  30. Abhijit Banerjee & J�rgen W. Weibull, . "Neutrally Stable Outcomes in Cheap Talk Coordination Games," ELSE working papers 012, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  31. Farrell, J. & Gibbons, R., 1989. "Cheap Talk With Two Audiences," Working papers 518, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  32. Rubinstein,Ariel, 2000. "Economics and Language," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521789905.
  33. Schlag,Karl, . "Cheap talk and evolutionary dynamics," Discussion Paper Serie B 242, University of Bonn, Germany.
  34. Warneryd, Karl, 1991. "Evolutionary stability in unanimity games with cheap talk," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 375-378, August.
  35. J. Farrell, 2010. "Meaning and Credibility in Cheap Talk Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 533, David K. Levine.
  36. Farrell, Joseph, 1988. "Communication, coordination and Nash equilibrium," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 209-214.
  37. Ingela Alger & Régis Renault, 2007. "Screening Ethics when Honest Agents Keep their Word," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 30(2), pages 291-311, February.
  38. Karl H. Schlag, 1994. "When Does Evolution Lead to Efficiency in Communication Games?," Discussion Paper Serie B 299, University of Bonn, Germany.
  39. Myerson, Roger B., 1989. "Credible negotiation statements and coherent plans," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 264-303, June.
  40. Bomze Immanuel M. & Weibull Jorgen W., 1995. "Does Neutral Stability Imply Lyapunov Stability?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 173-192, November.
  41. Valley, Kathleen & Thompson, Leigh & Gibbons, Robert & Bazerman, Max H., 2002. "How Communication Improves Efficiency in Bargaining Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 127-155, January.
  42. Ken Binmore & Larry Samuelson, . "Evolutionary Drift and Equilibrium Selection," ELSE working papers 011, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  43. 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.
  44. Charness, Gary, 2000. "Self-Serving Cheap Talk: A Test Of Aumann's Conjecture," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 177-194, November.
  45. Ken Binmore & Larry Samuelson, . "Evolutionary Drift And Equilibrium Selection," ELSE working papers 049, ESRC Centre on Economics Learning and Social Evolution.
  46. Topi Miettinen, 2006. "Promises and Conventions - An Approach to Pre-play Agreements," Papers on Strategic Interaction 2006-29, Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group.
  47. Abreu, Dilip & Rubinstein, Ariel, 1988. "The Structure of Nash Equilibrium in Repeated Games with Finite Automata," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1259-81, November.
  48. Sjaak Hurkens & Karl Schlag, 2003. "Evolutionary insights on the willingness to communicate," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 511-526, 09.
  49. Banerjee, Abhijit & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1993. "Evolutionary Selection with Discriminating Players," Working Paper Series 375, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  50. Kartik, Navin & Ottaviani, Marco & Squintani, Francesco, 2007. "Credulity, lies, and costly talk," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 93-116, May.
  51. I. Gilboa & A. Matsui, 2010. "Social Stability and Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 534, David K. Levine.
  52. Binmore, Ken & Samuelson, Larry, 1997. "Muddling Through: Noisy Equilibrium Selection," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 74(2), pages 235-265, June.
  53. Sjaak Hurkens & Navin Kartik, 2006. "(When) Would I Lie To You? Comment on ?Deception: The Role of Consequences?," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 664.06, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  54. COOPER, R. & DEJONG, D.V. & FORSYTHE, R. & Tom Ross, 1989. "Communication In The Battle Of The Sexes Game," Carleton Industrial Organization Research Unit (CIORU) 89-03, Carleton University, Department of Economics.
  55. Larry Samuelson & Jeroen Swinkels, 2003. "Evolutionary Stability and Lexographic Preferences," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000456, David K. Levine.
  56. Sobel, Joel, 1985. "A Theory of Credibility," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 557-73, October.
  57. Samuelson,L. & Swinkels,J.M., 2001. "Evolutionary staibility and lexicographic preferences," Working papers 18, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Economic Logic blog

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00354224. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (CCSD)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.