Rationalizations and Promises in Games

Understanding human behaviour involves "why"'s as well as "how"'s. Rational people have good reasons for acting, but it can be hard to find out what these were and how they worked. In this Note, we discuss a few ways in which actions, preferences, and expectations are intermingled. This mixture is especially clear with the well-known solution procedure for extensive games called 'Backward Induction'. In particular, we discuss three scenarios for analyzing behaviour in a game. One can rationalize given moves as revealing agents' preferences, one can also rationalize them as revealing agents' beliefs about others, but one can also change a predicted pattern of behaviour by making promises. All three scenarios transform given games to new ones, and we prove some results about their scope. A more general view of relevant game transformations would involve dynamic and epistemic game logics. Finally, our analysis describes and disentangles matters: but it will not tell you what to do!
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