A Tournament of Party Decision Rules

Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 52, No. 1, pp. 68-92, February 2008

43 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007 Last revised: 19 Aug 2008

See all articles by James H. Fowler

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Michael Laver

New York University (NYU)

Date Written: April 26, 2007

Abstract

In the spirit of Axelrod's famous prisoners' dilemma tournaments published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, we conducted a "tournament of party decision rules" in a dynamic agent-based spatial model of party competition. Entrants submitted rules for selecting party positions in a two-dimensional policy space with unknown voter locations. Each submitted rule was pitted against all others in a suite of very long-running simulations. The most successful rule 1) satisficed rather than maximized in the short run; 2) was "parasitic" on choices made by other successful rules; and 3) used a "secret handshake" to avoid attacking other agents using the same rule. In additional simulations, we show that the same rule wins when we alter the population of strategies and the method by which new parties are assigned strategies. The most successful strategies stayed away from the center of the voter distribution and they tended to make only small changes to their positions between elections.

Suggested Citation

Fowler, James H. and Laver, Michael, A Tournament of Party Decision Rules (April 26, 2007). Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 52, No. 1, pp. 68-92, February 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1008041 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1008041

James H. Fowler (Contact Author)

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

Michael Laver

New York University (NYU) ( email )

Bobst Library, E-resource Acquisitions
20 Cooper Square 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003-711
United States

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