When Should Political Scientists Use the Self-Confirming Equilibrium Concept? Benefits, Costs, and an Application to Jury Theorems
Posted: 25 Jan 2010
Date Written: Winter 2010
Many claims about political behavior are based on implicit assumptions about how people think. One such assumption, that political actors use identical conjectures when assessing others’ strategies, is nested within applications of widely used game-theoretic equilibrium concepts. When empirical findings call this assumption into question, the self-confirming equilibrium (SCE) concept provides an alternate criterion for theoretical claims. We examine applications of SCE to political science. Our main example focuses on the claim of . Convicting the innocent: The inferiority of unanimous jury verdicts under strategic voting. American Political Science Review 92:23-35). We show that the claim depends on the assumption that jurors have identical beliefs about one another's types and identical conjectures about one another's strategies. When jurors’ beliefs and conjectures vary in ways documented by empirical jury research, fewer false convictions can occur in equilibrium. The SCE concept can confer inferential advantages when actors have different beliefs and conjectures about one another.
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