Signals, evolution and the explanatory power of transient information

Philosophy of Science 69 (3):407-428 (2002)

Brian Skyrms
University of California, Irvine
Pre‐play signals that cost nothing are sometimes thought to be of no significance in interactions which are not games of pure common interest. We investigate the effect of pre‐play signals in an evolutionary setting for Assurance, or Stag Hunt, games and for a Bargaining game. The evolutionary game with signals is found to have dramatically different dynamics from the same game without signals. Signals change stability properties of equilibria in the base game, create new polymorphic equilibria, and change the basins of attraction of equilibria in the base game. Signals carry information at equilibrium in the case of the new polymorphic equilibria, but transient information is the basis for large changes in the magnitude of basins of attraction of equilibria in the base game. These phenomena exemplify new and important differences between evolutionary game theory and game theory based on rational choice.
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DOI 10.1086/342451
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