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When Should Political Scientists Use the Self-Confirming Equilibrium Concept? Benefits, Costs, and an Application to Jury Theorems

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

Many claims about political behavior are based on implicit assumptions about how people think. One such assumption, that political actors use identical conjectures when assessing others’ strategies, is nested within applications of widely-used game theoretic equilibrium concepts. When empirical research calls this assumption into question, the self-confirming equilibrium (SCE) concept is an alternate criterion for deriving theoretical claims. Using a series of examples, we examine opportunities and challenges inherent in applying the SCE concept. Our main example focuses on Feddersen and Pesendorfer’s (1998) claim that unanimity rules can lead juries to convict innocent defendants. Using SCE, we show that the claim depends on the assumption that jurors have identical beliefs about one another’s strategies. When juror beliefs vary in ways that follow from empirical jury research, we show that fewer false convictions can occur in equilibrium. Generally, the SCE confers advantages when actors have different conjectures about one another’s strategies.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 8643.

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Date of creation: 07 May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:8643
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  1. Eddie Dekel & Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 2001. "Learning to Play Bayesian Games," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1926, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  2. Harsanyi, John C., 1994. "Games with Incomplete Information," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1994-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  3. D. B. Bernheim, 2010. "Rationalizable Strategic Behavior," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000381, David K. Levine.
  4. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1998. "The Theory of Learning in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262061945, June.
  5. Dekel, E. & Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K., 1999. "Payoff information and Self-Confirming Equilibrium," Papers 9-99, Tel Aviv.
  6. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine, 1993. "Self-Confirming Equilibrium," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2147, David K. Levine.
  7. Govindan, Srihari & Wilson, Robert B., 2005. "Refinements of Nash Equilibrium," Research Papers 1897, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  8. 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.
  9. Aumann, Robert & Brandenburger, Adam, 1995. "Epistemic Conditions for Nash Equilibrium," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(5), pages 1161-80, September.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. AUMANN, Robert J., . "Subjectivity and correlation in randomized strategies," CORE Discussion Papers RP -167, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  13. Pearce, David G, 1984. "Rationalizable Strategic Behavior and the Problem of Perfection," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 1029-50, July.
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