How to play the games? Nash versus Berge behavior rules

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14 January 2014

Social interactions regularly lead to mutually beneficial transactions that are sometimes puzzling. The prisoner’s dilemma and the chicken and trust games prove to be less perplexing than Nash equilibrium predicts. Moral preferences seem to complement selforiented motivations and their relative predominance in games is found to vary according to the individuals, their environment, and the game. This paper examines the appropriateness of Berge equilibrium to study several 2×2 game situations, notably cooperative games where mutual support yields socially better outcomes. We consider the Berge behavior rule complementarily to Nash: individuals play one behavior rule or another, depending on the game situation. We then define non-cooperative Berge equilibrium, discuss what it means to play in this fashion, and argue why individuals may choose to do so. Finally, we discuss the relationship between Nash and Berge notions and analyze the rationale of individuals playing in a situational perspective.