A simple model for cognitive processing in repeated games
Paper in proceedings, 2006
In repeated interactions between individuals, we do not expect that exactly the same situation will occur from one time to another. Contrary to what is common in models of repeated games in the literature, most real situations may differ a lot and they are seldom completely symmetric. The purpose of this paper is to discuss a simple model of cognitive processing in the context of a repeated interaction with varying payoffs. The interaction between players is modelled by a repeated game with random observable payoffs. Cooperation is not simply associated with a certain action but needs to be understood as a phenomenon of the behaviour in the repeated game. The players are thus faced with a more complex situation, compared to the Prisoner’s Dilemma that has been widely used for investigating the conditions for cooperation in evolving populations. Still, there are robust cooperating strategies that usually evolve in a population of players. In the cooperative mode, these strategies select an action that allows for maximizing the sum of the payoff of the two players in each round, regardless of the own payoff. Two such players maximise the expected total long-term payoff. If the opponent deviates from this scheme, the strategy invokes a punishment action, which aims at lowering the opponent’s score for the rest of the (possibly infinitely) repeated game. The introduction of mistakes to the game actually pushes evolution towards more cooperative strategies even though the game becomes more difficult.