The Surprising Power of Game Theory to Explain Irrational Human Behavior
Two MIT economists show how game theory—the ultimate theory of rationality—explains irrational behavior
We like to think of ourselves as rational. This idea is the foundation for classical economic analysis of human behavior, including the awesome achievements of game theory. But as behavioral economics shows, most behavior doesn’t seem rational at all—which, unfortunately, casts doubt on game theory’s real-world credibility.
In Hidden Games, Moshe Hoffman and Erez Yoeli find a surprising middle ground between the hyperrationality of classical economics and the hyper-irrationality of behavioral economics. They call it hidden games. Reviving game theory, Hoffman and Yoeli use it to explain our most puzzling behavior, from the mechanics of Stockholm syndrome and internalized misogyny to why we help strangers and have a sense of fairness.
Fun and powerfully insightful, Hidden Games is an eye-opening argument for using game theory to explain all the irrational things we think, feel, and do.
"In this fascinating book, Hoffman and Yoeli show how the tools of economics can be used to understand a wide range of real-world phenomena. The authors show time and again that many types of human behavior which seem inconsistent with consciously rational behavior can be understood once we realize that those same forces are operating below the surface. Indeed, this book shows the magic of what is hidden from view."—Kevin M. Murphy, MacArthur Fellow and Professor of Economics at the Booth School of Business, University of Chicago