Magical thinking: A representation result
Copyright © 2017 The Authors. This paper suggests a novel way to import the approach of axiomatic theories of individual choice into strategic settings and demonstrates the benefits of this approach. We propose both a tractable behavioral model as well as axioms applied to the behavior of the collection of players, focusing first on prisoners' dilemma games. A representation theorem establishes these axioms as the precise behavioral content of the model, and that the model's parameters are (essentially) uniquely identified from behavior. The behavioral model features magical thinking: players behave as if their expectations about their opponents' behavior vary with their own choices. The model provides a unified view of documented behavior in a range of often studied games, such as the prisoners' dilemma, the battle of the sexes, hawk–dove, and the stag hunt, and also generates novel predictions across games.
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