Can Game(s) Theory Explain Culture? The Emergence of Cultural Behavior within Multiple Games

Rationality and Society, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 65-97, 2007

51 Pages Posted: 29 May 2008  

Jenna Bednar

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science

Scott E. Page

University of Michigan - Center for the Study of Complex Systems

Abstract

The hallmarks of cultural behavior include consistency within and across individuals, variance between populations, behavioral stickiness, and possibly suboptimal performance. In this article, we build a formal framework within which these behavioral attributes emerge from the interactions of purposive agents. We then derive mathematical results showing these behaviors are optimal given our assumptions. Our framework rests on two primary assumptions: (1) agents play ensembles of games, not just single games as is traditionally the case in evolutionary game theory models; and (2) agents have finite cognitive capacity. Our analysis combines agent-based techniques and mathematics, enabling us to explore dynamics and to prove when the behaviors produced by the agents are equilibria. Our results provide game theoretic foundations for cultural diversity and agent-based support for how cultural behavior might emerge.

Keywords: agent-based models, bounded rationality, culture, emergence, game theory

JEL Classification: C70, Z10

Suggested Citation

Bednar, Jenna and Page, Scott E., Can Game(s) Theory Explain Culture? The Emergence of Cultural Behavior within Multiple Games. Rationality and Society, Vol. 19, No. 1, pp. 65-97, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1138344

Jenna Bednar (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Political Science ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States
734-615-5165 (Phone)
734-764-3341 (Fax)

Scott E. Page

University of Michigan - Center for the Study of Complex Systems ( email )

317 West Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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