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Analogies and Theories: The Role of Simplicity and the Emergence of Norms


  • Gabrielle Gayer

    () (Department of Economics [Israël] - Bar-Ilan University [Israël])

  • Itzhak Gilboa

    () (GREGH - Groupement de Recherche et d'Etudes en Gestion à HEC - HEC Paris - Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Tel Aviv University [Tel Aviv])


We consider the dynamics of reasoning by general rules (theories) and specific cases (analogies). When an agent faces an exogenous process, we show that, under mild conditions, if reality happens to be simple, the agent will converge to adopt a theory and discard analogical thinking. If, however, reality is complex, the agent may rely on analogies more than on theories. By contrast, when the process is generated by agents' predictions, convergence to a theory is much more likely, as in the emergence of norms in a coordination game. Mixed cases, involving noisy endogenous processes are likely to give rise to complex dynamics of reasoning, switching between theories and analogies.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabrielle Gayer & Itzhak Gilboa, 2012. "Analogies and Theories: The Role of Simplicity and the Emergence of Norms," Working Papers hal-00712917, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00712917
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Itzhak Gilboa & David Schmeidler, 2003. "Inductive Inference: An Axiomatic Approach," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 1-26, January.
    2. Kalai, Ehud & Lehrer, Ehud, 1993. "Rational Learning Leads to Nash Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(5), pages 1019-1045, September.
    3. Gilboa,Itzhak & Schmeidler,David, 2001. "A Theory of Case-Based Decisions," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521802345, March.
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    More about this item


    analogies; theories; simplicity; norms;

    JEL classification:

    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory

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