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On the Evolutionary Emergence of Optimism

Heifetz, Aviad and Spiegel, Yossi (2000) On the Evolutionary Emergence of Optimism. Social Science Working Paper, 1104. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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Successful individuals were frequently found to be overly optimistic. These findings are puzzling, as one could expect that realists would perform best in the long run. We show, however, that in a large class of strategic interactions of either cooperation or competition, the equilibrium payoffs of optimists may be higher than those of realists. This is because the very fact of being optimistic changes the game, and drives the adversary to change her equilibrium behavior, possibly to the benefit of the optimist. Suppose, then, that a population consists initially of individuals with various perceptional tendencies, pessimists and optimists to various extents, as well as of realists. Individuals meet in pairs to interact, and more successful tendencies proliferate faster. We show that as time goes by, some moderate degree of optimism will take over, and outnumber all other tendencies.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information:First version: December 1999. This version: October 2000.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:1104
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170807-160109793
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:79879
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:08 Aug 2017 03:04
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:25

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