Modeling Deliberation in Games

Much of the work in traditional game theory is focused on the analysis of solution concepts (typical examples include the Nash equilibrium and its refinements or the various notions of iterated dominance). A solution concept is intended to represent the "rational" outcome of a strategic interactive situation. That is, it is what (ideally) rational players would do in the situation being modeled. This talk will focus on a key foundational question: How do the (rational or not-so rational) players decide what to do in a strategic situation? This has both a normative component (What are the normative principles that guide the players' decision making?) and a descriptive component (Which psychological phenomena best explain discrepancies between predicted and observed behavior in game situations?). This question directs our analysis to aspects of a strategic interactive situation that are not typically covered by standard game-theoretic models. Much of the work in game theory is focused on identifying the rational outcomes of an game-theoretic situation. This is in line with the standard view of a strategy as "general plan of action" describing what players (should) do when required to move according to the rules of the game. Recent work on epistemic game theory has demonstrated the importance of the "informational context" of a game situation in assessing the rationality of the players' choices. This naturally shifts the focus to the underlying *process* of deliberation that leads (rational) players to adopt certain plans of action.

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