Could The Majority of Society Not Being Jerks Ever be a Nash Equilibrium?

Could The Majority of Society Not Being Jerks Ever be a Nash Equilibrium?

This article discusses how people’s behavior in society is associated with a Nash equilibrium in which “nobody would be better off deviating to a different feasible plan of behavior, given others’ plans.” The outcome of decent behavior shows an outcome of a good Nash equilibria. In class, we discussed how the outcome of a nash equilibrium may be influenced by many factors, especially the players involved in the equilibrium. An excellent example is given in this article in relation to how society behaves.

According to Douglas Zare, he explained that bad behavior is to be expected from the Nash equilibria; however, the psychological and social perspective of behavior has not been taken into consideration. Yet, good behavior observed in nice societies may not even come from the Nash equilibrium such that it is recognized as “odd behavior.”  Some people use avoidance in order to not do bad things and others choose to go against those temptations because they know they should not do those things.

“In economics, we infer people’s preferences from what they do. So if people have a consistent pattern of behavior in which they don’t deviate from social norms, we infer that’s in their interests, given everyone else’s patterns of behavior. And that’s exactly the definition of a Nash equilibrium. This makes things a little tautological, as you’ve probably noticed, but that doesn’t have to be a problem.”

I find this interesting considering the application of the Nash equilibrium was used for human behavior and that there were so many influences discussed which contributed to the outcome itself.

J. Lee

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One thought on “Could The Majority of Society Not Being Jerks Ever be a Nash Equilibrium?”

  1. I enjoyed reading this article. It reminded me of a Dostoyevsky quote: as a general rule, people, even the wicked, are much more naive and simple-hearted than we supposed. And we ourselves are, too. Working in customer service, this has at times become my mantra (and people challenge it). It allows for forgiveness and understanding when someone is being brash, selfish, or inconsiderate; after all, at the end of the day, everyone wants what is best for themselves and their corresponding actions are exactly what the Nash Equilibrium describes. That being said, I don’t agree with what Golub writes about people having a natural inclination to behave badly. Studies have shown that doing good deeds releases endorphins, which improves the actor’s self-esteem; however, in a study done at University of Toronto Scarborough in 2010, students discovered that “People are more likely to cheat and make immoral decisions when their transgressions don’t involve an explicit action.” So, it’s almost more accurate to say that people are more inclined to behave badly if it is lazier/easier/more convenient to do so.

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