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Essays on Cooperation and Coordination


Romero, Julian Neukom (2010) Essays on Cooperation and Coordination. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/210W-NF91.


This thesis examines questions related to game theory, and in particular cooperation and coordination among economic agents.

In the first chapter (joint with Noah Myung) we propose a decision making process meant to mimic human behavior. This process is implemented with computational agents. We use these computational agents to run simulations of two coordination games, the minimum-effort coordination game and the Battle of the Sexes game. We find that the computational agents exhibit behavior similar to human subjects from previous experimental work. We then use the computational testbed to develop experimental hypotheses, which are then confirmed in the laboratory using human subjects. In particular, we show that higher cost may actually lead to higher average payoffs in the minimum-effort coordination game.

The second chapter examines a model of infinitely repeated games in which agents are boundedly rational. I show that the number of equilibrium outcomes is smaller when agents are boundedly rational. Importantly, cooperative outcomes are still possible in equilibrium, even when players cannot use sophisticated strategies and are not able to perfectly monitor their opponents. The strategy that leads to cooperation is called "Win-Stay, Lose-Shift". Using this strategy, I show that cooperation is possible in equilibrium for a large class of 2x2 games. I also give necessary and sufficient conditions on equilibrium structure for Nx2 games. These conditions suggest that in equilibrium, players must be able to cooperate without getting caught in long periods of conflict.

The final chapter focuses on a class of minimum-effort coordination games. I show that the symmetric quantal response equilibrium correspondence takes the shape of an s-shaped curve as long as players are sufficiently rational. Under certain assumptions, this s-shaped correspondence leads to hysteresis. Based on these theoretical results, I develop experiments with the minimum-effort coordination game, and test the hysteresis hypothesis in the laboratory. I find evidence that this hysteresis does occur when human subjects play the minimum-effort coordination game in the lab.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Game Theory, Cooperation, Coordination, Minimum-Effort Coordination Game, Battle of the Sexes Game, Bounded Rationality, Repeated Games, Hysteresis
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Ledyard, John O.
Thesis Committee:
  • Ledyard, John O. (chair)
  • Goeree, Jacob K.
  • Rosenthal, Jean-Laurent
  • Yariv, Leeat
Defense Date:12 May 2010
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05242010-150642550
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:5831
Deposited By: Julian Romero
Deposited On:04 Jun 2010 18:01
Last Modified:08 Nov 2019 18:10

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