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Should Political Scientists Use the Self-Confirming Equilibrium Concept? Explaining the Choices of Cognitively Limited Actors

Author

Listed:
  • Lupia, Arthur
  • Zharinova, Natasha
  • Levine, Adam Seth

Abstract

Many claims about political behavior are based on implicit assumptions about human reasoning. One such assumption, that political actors think in complex and similar ways when assessing strategies, is nested within widely used game theoretic equilibrium concepts. Empirical research casts doubt on the validity of these assumptions in important cases. For example, the finding that some citizens expend limited cognitive energy to social concerns runs counter to the assumption that citizens (e.g., jurors) base all decisions on complex thoughts. Similarly, evidence that some political actors (e.g., Democrats and Republicans) think about political cause-and-effect quite differently runs against the assumption that all players reason about politics in similar ways. The self-confirming equilibrium (SCE) concept provides a means for evaluating the robustness of theoretical conclusions to the introduction of a broad range of psychological assumptions. Through arguments and examples, we explain opportunities and challenges inherent in using the SCE concept. We find that the concept provides an improved foundation for more serious and constructive interactions between formal theoretic and psychology-oriented literatures.

Suggested Citation

  • Lupia, Arthur & Zharinova, Natasha & Levine, Adam Seth, 2007. "Should Political Scientists Use the Self-Confirming Equilibrium Concept? Explaining the Choices of Cognitively Limited Actors," MPRA Paper 1618, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:1618
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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/1618/1/MPRA_paper_1618.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kreps, David M & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Sequential Equilibria," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 863-894, July.
    2. Dekel, Eddie & Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K., 1999. "Payoff Information and Self-Confirming Equilibrium," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 89(2), pages 165-185, December.
    3. Robert Aumann & Adam Brandenburger, 2014. "Epistemic Conditions for Nash Equilibrium," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: The Language of Game Theory Putting Epistemics into the Mathematics of Games, chapter 5, pages 113-136 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    4. Harsanyi, John C, 1995. "Games with Incomplete Information," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 291-303, June.
    5. Fudenberg, Drew & Levine, David K, 1993. "Self-Confirming Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(3), pages 523-545, May.
    6. McKelvey Richard D. & Palfrey Thomas R., 1995. "Quantal Response Equilibria for Normal Form Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 6-38, July.
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    9. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1984. "Rationalizable Strategic Behavior," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 1007-1028, July.
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    11. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "The Theory of Learning in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061945, January.
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    13. Fudenberg, Drew & Kreps, David M., 1995. "Learning in extensive-form games I. Self-confirming equilibria," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 20-55.
    14. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Convicting the Innocent: The Inferiority of Unanimous Jury Verdicts," Discussion Papers 1170, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    political science; equilibrium concepts; cognition; jury decision making; self-confirming equilibrium; Nash equilibrium; need for cognition; conjecture; belief;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • H00 - Public Economics - - General - - - General
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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