nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2006‒09‒16
four papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
US Naval Academy, USA

  1. The Puzzle of Altruism Reconsidered: Biological Theories of Altruism and One-Shot Altruism By Shultziner, Doron; Dattner, Arnon
  2. A Behavioral Model for Participation Games with Negative Feedback By Pietro Dindo; Jan Tuinstra
  3. Coarse Contingencies By Larry G. Epstein; Massimo Marinacci
  4. Nash Equilibrium as an Expression of Self-Referential Reasoning By Perea Andrés

  1. By: Shultziner, Doron (Politics & International Relations Department, Oxford University); Dattner, Arnon (Department of Zoology, Tel Aviv University)
    Abstract: This paper critically examines the state of the literature in evolutionary biology regarding theories of altruistic behavior. The shared theoretical problems of Kin-selection and Group-selection are examined. Theoretical and severe methodological problems of Reciprocal Altruism theory are also discussed. We offer new conceptual clarifications of the Handicap Principle theory regarding costs and benefits to both the donor and the recipient of an altruistic act. We also summarize supportive empirical studies which demonstrate how Handicap Principle theory easily explains altruistic behavior on a different logic than the one employed by other theories of altruistic behavior. Finally, we discuss the phenomenon of one-shot altruism in order to evaluate, and distinguish between, the predictive and explanatory power of different theories of altruistic behavior.
    Keywords: altruism; altruistic behavior; theories of altruism; handicap principle; reciprocity; reciprocal altruism; group selection; kin selection; one-shot altruism
    JEL: A12 Z00
    Date: 2006–09–06
  2. By: Pietro Dindo (Faculty of Economics and Business, Universiteit van Amsterdam); Jan Tuinstra (Faculty of Economics and Business, Universiteit van Amsterdam)
    Abstract: We study participation games with negative feedback, i.e. games where players choose either to participate in a certain project or not and where the payoff for participating decreases in the number of participating players. We use the replicator dynamics to model the competition between different behavioral rules that specify how to play the game in a repeated setting. This results in an analytically tractable model which is able to describe the type of behavior found in the experimental and computational literature. We find that an increase in the number of players destabilizes the unique symmetric mixed strategy Nash equilibrium. The time series of perpetually fluctuating participation rates typically exhibits linear autocorrelation structure and underparticipation. We investigate whether this time series structure can be exploited, and we relate underparticipation to the payoff structure of the participation game.
    Keywords: participation games; evolutionary game theory; nonlinear dynamics
    JEL: C72 C73
    Date: 2006–08–25
  3. By: Larry G. Epstein; Massimo Marinacci
    Abstract: The paper considers an agent who must choose an action today under uncertainty about the consequence of any chosen action but without having in mind a complete list of all the contingencies that could influence outcomes. She conceives of some relevant (subjective) contingencies but she is aware that these contingencies are coarse - they leave out some details that may affect outcomes. Though she may not be able to describe these finer details, she is aware that they exist and this may affect her behavior.
    Keywords: Unforeseen Contingencies, Ambiguity, Menu Choices
    JEL: D81
    Date: 2006
  4. By: Perea Andrés (METEOR)
    Abstract: Within a formal epistemic model for simultaneous-move games, we present the following conditions: (1) belief in the opponents'' rationality (BOR), stating that a player should believe that every opponent chooses an optimal strategy, (2) self-referential beliefs (SRB), stating that a player believes that his opponents hold correct beliefs about his own beliefs, (3) projective beliefs (PB), stating that i believes that j''s belief about k''s choice is the same as i''s belief about k''s choice, and (4) conditionally independent beliefs (CIB), stating that a player believes that opponents'' types choose their strategies independently. We show that, if a player satisfies BOR, SRB and CIB, and believes that every opponent satisfies BOR, SRB, PB and CIB, then he will choose a Nash equilibrium strategy (that is, a strategy that is optimal in some Nash equilibrium). We thus provide a set of sufficient conditions for Nash equilibrium strategy choice. We also show that none of these seven conditions can be dropped.
    Keywords: mathematical economics;
    Date: 2006

This nep-evo issue is ©2006 by Matthew Baker. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.