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A Reality Check for Game Theory

Butler, D.J. (2005) A Reality Check for Game Theory. Journal of Economic Surveys, 19 (1). pp. 137-147.

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There is a tendency for some economists who are less familiar with game theory (GT) to comment that it has never fulfilled its early promise and that it essentially has little to offer as a tool to understand, predict and guide human, social and economic behaviour. For instance in Sylvia Nasar’s book ‘A Beautiful Mind’, she recounts the remarkable controversy that surrounded the award of a nobel prize for GT, including one committee member apparently asking for ‘a single major example that game theory had any empirical validity whatsoever’ (p. 371). An excellent reply to such sceptics would be to present them with a copy of Colin Camerer’s new book, ‘Behavioral Game Theory’. This is not to say that his book catalogues an unbroken string of successes for the theory, as we shall see neither GT nor human behaviour emerges unscathed from the body of work reported therein.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Blackwell
Copyright: Blackwell
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