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The Evolutionary Stability of Optimism, Pessimism and Complete Ignorance

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  • Schipper, Burkhard C.

Abstract

We provide an evolutionary foundation to evidence that in some situations humans maintain optimistic or pessimistic attitudes towards uncertainty and are ignorant to relevant aspects of the environment. Players in strategic games face Knightian uncertainty about opponents’ actions and maximize individually their Choquet expected utility. Our Choquet expected utility model allows for both an optimistic or pessimistic attitude towards uncertainty as well as ignorance to strategic dependencies. An optimist (resp. pessimist) overweights good (resp. bad) outcomes. A complete ignorant never reacts to opponents’ change of actions. With qualifications we show that optimistic (resp. pessimistic) complete ignorance is evolutionary stable / yields a strategic advantage in submodular (resp. supermodular) games with aggregate externalities. Moreover, this evolutionary stable preference leads to Walrasian behavior in those classes of games.

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  • Schipper, Burkhard C., 2005. "The Evolutionary Stability of Optimism, Pessimism and Complete Ignorance," Discussion Paper Series of SFB/TR 15 Governance and the Efficiency of Economic Systems 68, Free University of Berlin, Humboldt University of Berlin, University of Bonn, University of Mannheim, University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:trf:wpaper:68
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    Cited by:

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    3. Bayer, Peter & Guerdjikova, Ani, 2021. "Optimism leads to optimality: Ambiguity in network formation," VfS Annual Conference 2021 (Virtual Conference): Climate Economics 242439, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    ambiguity; Knightian uncertainty; Choquet expected utility; neo-additive capacity; Hurwicz criterion; Maximin; Minimax; Ellsberg paradox; overconfidence; supermodularity; aggregative games; monotone comparative statics; playing the field; evolution of preferences;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • D01 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Microeconomic Behavior: Underlying Principles
    • D43 - Microeconomics - - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design - - - Oligopoly and Other Forms of Market Imperfection
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • L13 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Oligopoly and Other Imperfect Markets

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