Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Some news: I have asked the Library if we could please have the full subscription to PNAS and the university has agreed. I asked Viv Eades to let us know when this becomes effective

This is the kind of paper we will get to read:

PNAS 12 Feb 2013, vol. 110 no. 7, 2581–2586
Evolution of fairness in the one-shot anonymous Ultimatum Game
David G. Randa, Corina E. Tarnita, Hisashi Ohtsuki and Martin A. Nowak

Classical economic models assume that people are fully rational and selfish, while experiments often point to different conclusions. A canonical example is the Ultimatum Game: one player proposes a division of a sum of money between herself and a second player, who either accepts or rejects. Based on rational self-interest, responders should accept any nonzero offer and proposers should offer the smallest possible amount. Traditional, deterministic models of evolutionary game theory agree: in the one-shot anonymous Ultimatum Game, natural selection favors low offers and demands. Experiments instead show a preference for fairness: often responders reject low offers and proposers make higher offers than needed to avoid rejection. Here we show that using stochastic evolutionary game theory, where agents make mistakes when judging the payoffs and strategies of others, natural selection favors fairness. Across a range of parameters, the average strategy matches the observed behavior: proposers offer between 30% and 50%, and responders demand between 25% and 40%. Rejecting low offers increases relative payoff in pairwise competition between two strategies and is favored when selection is sufficiently weak. Offering more than you demand increases payoff when many strategies are present simultaneously and is favored when mutation is sufficiently high. We also perform a behavioral experiment and find empirical support for these theoretical findings: uncertainty about the success of others is associated with higher demands and offers; and inconsistency in the behavior of others is associated with higher offers but not predictive of demands. In an uncertain world, fairness finishes first.

Fabia Franco

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