By David K Levine, Professor of Economics, UCLA
What economists call game theory psychologists call the theory of social situations, which is an accurate description of what game theory is about. Although game theory is relevant to parlor games such as poker or bridge, most research in game theory focuses on how groups of people interact. There are two main branches of game theory: cooperative and noncooperative game theory. Noncooperative game theory deals largely with how intelligent individuals interact with one another in an effort to achieve their own goals. That is the branch of game theory I will discuss here.
In addition to game theory, economic theory has three other main branches: decision theory, general equilibrium theory and mechanism design theory. All are closely connected to game theory.
Decision theory can be viewed as a theory of one person games, or a game of a single player against nature…
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