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What to Maximize If You Must

Listed author(s):
  • Aviad Heifetz

    (Tel Aviv University)

  • Chris Shannon

    (University of California, Berkeley)

  • Yossi Spiegel

    (Tel Aviv University)

The assumption that decision makers choose actions to maximize their preferences is a central tenet in economics. This assumption is often justified either formally or informally by appealing to evolutionary arguments. In contrast, this paper shows that in almost every game, payoff. maximization cannot be justified by appealing to such arguments. We show that in almost every game, for almost every distortion of a player's actual payoffs, some extent of this distortion is beneficial to the player because of the resulting effect on opponents' play. Consequently, such distortions will not be driven out by any evolutionary process involving payoff.- monotonic selection dynamics, in which agents with higher actual payoffs proliferate at the expense of less successful agents. In particular, under any such selection dynamics, the population will not converge to payoff- maximizing behavior. We also show that payoff-maximizing behavior need not prevail even when preferences are imperfectly observed.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/game/papers/0303/0303002.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Game Theory and Information with number 0303002.

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Length: 47 pages
Date of creation: 19 Mar 2003
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:0303002
Note: 47 pages, Acrobat .pdf
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

References listed on IDEAS
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