nep-evo New Economics Papers
on Evolutionary Economics
Issue of 2018‒02‒19
six papers chosen by
Matthew Baker
City University of New York

  1. Uninvadable social behaviors and preferences in group-structured populations By Alger, Ingela; Lehmann, Laurent; Weibull, Jörgen W.
  2. "Geographical Origins of Language Structures " By Oded Galor; Omer Ozak; Assaf Sarid
  3. Theory of hyper-rational choice By Madjid Eshaghi Gordji; Gholamreza Askari
  4. Group behaviour in tacit coordination games with focal points: An experimental investigation By Stefania Sitzia; Jiwei Zheng
  5. Biases in Beliefs: Experimental Evidence By Dominik Bauer; Irenaeus Wolff
  6. Naiveté About Temptation and Self-Control: Foundations for Naive Quasi-Hyperbolic Discounting By David S. Ahn; Ryota Iijima; Todd Sarver

  1. By: Alger, Ingela; Lehmann, Laurent; Weibull, Jörgen W.
    Abstract: Humans have evolved in populations structured in groups that extended beyond the nuclear family. Individuals interacted with each other within these groups and there was limited migration and sometimes conáicts between these groups. Suppose that during this evolution, individuals transmitted their behaviors or preferences to their (genetic or cultural) o§spring, and that material outcomes resulting from the interaction determined which parents were more successful than others in producing (genetic or cultural) o§spring. Should one then expect pure material self-interest to prevail? Some degree of altruism, spite, inequity aversion or morality? By building on established models in population biology we analyze the role that di§erent aspects of population structureó such as group size, migration rates, probability of group conáicts, cultural loyalty towards parentsó play in shaping behaviors and preferences which, once established, cannot be displaced by any other preference. In particular, we establish that uninvadable preferences under limited migration between groups will consist of a materially self-interested, a moral, and an other-regarding component, and we show how the strength of each component depends on population structure.
    Keywords: Strategic interactions; Preference evolution; Evolution by natural selection; Cultural transmission; Pro-sociality; Altruism; Morality; Spite
    JEL: A12 A13 B52 C73 D01 D63 D64 D91
    Date: 2018–02
  2. By: Oded Galor; Omer Ozak; Assaf Sarid
    Abstract: This research explores the geographical origins of the coevolution of cultural and linguistic traits in the course of human history, relating the geographical roots of long-term orientation to the structure of the future tense, the agricultural determinants of gender bias to the presence of sex-based grammatical gender, and the ecological origins of hierarchical orientation to the existence of politeness distinctions. The study advances the hypothesis and establishes empirically that: (i) variations in geographical characteristics that were conducive to higher natural return to agricultural investment contributed to the existing cross-language variations in the structure of the future tense, (ii) the agricultural determinants of gender gap in agricultural productivity fostered the existence of sex-based grammatical gender, and (iii) the ecological origins of hierarchical societies triggered the emergence of politeness distinctions.
    Date: 2018
  3. By: Madjid Eshaghi Gordji; Gholamreza Askari
    Abstract: The rational choice theory is based on this idea that people rationally pursue goals for increasing their personal interests. In most conditions, the behavior of an actor is not independent of the person and others' behavior. Here, we present a new concept of rational choice as hyper-rational choice which in this concept, the actor thinks about profit or loss of other actors in addition to his personal profit or loss and then will choose an action which is desirable to him. We implement the hyper-rational choice to generalize and expand the game theory. Results of this study will help to model the behavior of people considering environmental conditions, the kind of behavior interactive, valuation system of itself and others and system of beliefs and internal values of societies. Hyper-rationality can provide a common research language between psychologists and economists, and it helps us understand how human decision makers behave in interactive decisions.
    Date: 2018–01
  4. By: Stefania Sitzia (University of East Anglia); Jiwei Zheng (Universtiy of East Anglia)
    Abstract: This paper reports an experimental investigation of Schelling's theory of focal points that compares group and individual behaviour. We find that when players' interests are perfectly aligned, groups choose more often the label salient option and achieve higher coordination success than individuals. However, in games with conflict of interest, groups do not always perform better than individuals, especially when the degree of conflict is substantial. We also find that groups outperform individuals in games in which identifying the solution to the coordination problem requires some level of cognitive sophistication (i.e. trade-off games). Finally, players that successfully identify the solution to these games achieve also greater coordination rates in games with a low degree of conflict than other players. This result raises questions of whether finding the focal point is more a matter of logic rather than imagination as instead Schelling argued.
    Keywords: groups, coordination, label cues, cognition
    JEL: C72 C78 C91 C92
    Date: 2018–01–30
  5. By: Dominik Bauer; Irenaeus Wolff
    Abstract: Many papers have reported behavioral biases in belief formation that come on top of standard game-theoretic reasoning. We show that the processes involved depend on the way participants reason about their beliefs. When they think about what everybody else or another ‘unspeci€fied’ individual is doing, they exhibit a consensus bias (believing that others are similar to themselves). In contrast, when they think about what their situation-speci€fic counterpart is doing, they show ex-post rationalization, under which the reported belief is €‹fitted to the action and not vice versa. Our €findings suggest that there may not be an ‘innocent’ belief-elicitation method that yields unbiased beliefs. However, if we ‘debias’ the reported beliefs using our estimates of the di‚fferent e‚ffects, we €find no more treatment e‚ffect of how we ask for the belief. ‘The ‘debiasing’ exercise shows that not accounting for the biases will typically bias estimates of game-theoretic thinking upwards.
    Keywords: Belief Elicitation, Belief Formation, Belief-Action Consistency, Framing E‚ffects, Projection, Consensus E‚ffect, Wishful ‘Thinking, Hindsight Bias, Ex-Post Rationalization
    Date: 2018
  6. By: David S. Ahn (University of California, Berkeley); Ryota Iijima (Cowles Foundation, Yale University); Todd Sarver (Duke University)
    Abstract: We introduce and characterize a recursive model of dynamic choice that accommodates naivete about present bias. While recursive representations are important for tractable analysis of in nite-horizon problems, the commonly-used Strotz model of time inconsistency presents well-known technical difficulties in extensions to dynamic environments. Our model incorporates costly self-control in the sense of Gul and Pesendorfer (2001) to overcome these hurdles. The important novel condition is an axiom for naivete. We first introduce appropriate definitions of absolute and comparative naivete for a simple two-period model, and explore their implications for the costly self-control model. We then develop suitable extensions of these definitions to in nite-horizon environments. Incorporating the definition of absolute naivete as an axiom, we characterize a recursive representation of naive quasi-hyperbolic discounting with self-control for an individual who is jointly overoptimistic about her present-bias factor and her ability to resist instant gratification. We also study the implications of our proposed comparison of naivete for this recursive representation and uncover new restrictions on the present-bias and self-control parameters that characterize comparative naivete. Finally, we discuss the subtleties that preclude more general notions of naivete, and illuminate the impossibility of a definition that simultaneously accommodates both random choice and costly self-control.
    Keywords: Naive, Sophisticated, Self-control, Quasi-hyperbolic discounting
    JEL: D11 D91
    Date: 2017–08

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