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Breaking the Symmetry: Optimal Conventions in Repeated Symmetric Games


  • V. Bhaskar

    (University of St. Andrews)


We analyze the problem of coordinating upon asymmetric equilibria in a symmetric game, such as the battle-of-the-sexes. In repeated interaction, asymmetric coordination is possible possible via symmetric repeated game strategies. This requires that players randomize initially and adopt a convention, i.e a (symmetric) rule which maps asymmetric realizations to asymmetric continuation paths. The multiplicity of possible conventions gives rise to a coordination problem at a higher level if the game is one of pure coordination. However, if there is a slight conflict of interest between players, a unique optimal convention often exists. The optimal convention is egalitarian, and thereby increases the probability of coordination.

Suggested Citation

  • V. Bhaskar, 1997. "Breaking the Symmetry: Optimal Conventions in Repeated Symmetric Games," Game Theory and Information 9706001, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpga:9706001
    Note: Type of Document - Scientific Word DVI file; prepared on IBM PC; to print on any; pages: 21+; figures: none

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. John C. Harsanyi & Reinhard Selten, 1988. "A General Theory of Equilibrium Selection in Games," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262582384, January.
    2. Sugden, Robert, 1995. "A Theory of Focal Points," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(430), pages 533-550, May.
    3. Crawford, Vincent P & Haller, Hans, 1990. "Learning How to Cooperate: Optimal Play in Repeated Coordination Games," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(3), pages 571-595, May.
    4. Maarten Janssen, 2001. "Rationalizing Focal Points," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 50(2), pages 119-148, March.
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    More about this item


    Coordination; Symmetry; Equilibrium Selection; Repeated Games.;

    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

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