Research on the Methodology of Experiments of Game Theory and Its Function

Author:Liu Xiaoli

Supervisor:Pan Tianqun


Degree Year:2013





Game theory is a deductive science that uses rigorous Mathematical model to study the rational human beings’ interaction.It has a strong explanatory power for many social and economic phenomena,and it is an abstract demonstration for all behaviors which are involved in the interactions of human beings’ choices.The purpose of game theory is to reveal the rules of human activities which are characterized by sociality and rationality.To clarify the nature of game theory,game experiment studying plays a very important role.It is even important for researches on the development game theory.In game theory,logical non-contradiction is the sole criterion of judging whether a proposition is correct or not.Therefore,game experiment can not totally confirm or falsify a specific game theory.The relation of game experiment and game theory directly depends on the nature of game theory.Game experiment originated from the insurmountable problems when applicating game theory.The problem is the selection bias between the prediction of Game theory and the reality of the real solutions,but the game theory often makes mistakes in the application,which makes people doubt of it,and at the same time it prompts the systemic research of the game experiment.Game experiment is a controllable method that is carried out in laboratory.It uses real people and real money to evoke the player to make decisions in certain interaction situations.Game experiment,with its own unique characteristics,is different from other experiments.Although experiment in the natural sciences have long been widely used by scientists,in the use of the social sciences is too late.The recent enthusiasm for experimental economics shows that theorists have realized the importance of the experimental method in social science.Game experiment is widely used in economic research,and has a great of importance and value in the development of game theory.For the game experiment,it not only has the scientific experiment’s controllability and reproducibility,but also its own unique characteristics:--’people’subjectivity.Experimental controllability and reproducibility makes experimenters able to artificially control certain factors that directly tests the core of things,and the similar experiment can be repeated to verify the results by other experimenters,based on which people can improve some experiment’s variables if they need,while generate cumulative evidence base,and expand the dialogue between theory and evidence.Game experiment has an important methodological value on game theory research,but the problems in the application of game theory and its defects of traditional research methods makes the game experiment become another powerful tool besides the theory analysis.Game experiment is different from experiment in natural science,especially cannot be equated with psychological experiment.Its experimental evidence can be applied to all social sciences which involve human interactions.However,this is not to say that the results of the game experiments will certainly be reliable,as the game experiment’s ’person’ subject characteristics,its objectivity and reliability to be more severe.It can be said that the objectivity of the game experiment will determine the validity of the game experiment directly is very important for the game experiment.I conducted and designed two game experiments in the dissertation:the game experiment of selecting number and the game experiment of ultimatum.Both of the two experiments are good illustrations for game experiment as a method,and how it works on game theory’s research.The rational assumption of game theory is an for a perfect situation,but in real life,the absolute rationality does not exist.Game experiments have the functions of discovering and testing as the same as other scientific experiments.Game experiment’s discovery function means that it is able to find social scientific hypotheses,and test functions means,a social scientific hypothesis can be confirmed or falsified by game experiments.Here,it should be noted that due to the nature of the game theory itself,the testing object of game experiment is different from other experiments.The game experiments to test is not the game itself,but that the social rules or social science hypothesis as a social science methodology revealed whether is in line with the actual situation or not.For the game experiment,the results of certain games does not match the game theory’s prediction is not the negation for game theory.The aim of social Sciences is to find real people’s selection rules in real situations.If the experiment’s results do not accord with the theory solution,then the results can refute the hypothesis associated with the law.It can be said that the limitations in the application of game theory motivated the game experiment,and the game experiment,as a method and tool,has an interdependent and parallel relationship with game theory,both constitutes a powerful tool for studying social science rules.For researchers on game theory,game experiment should be treated properly.Firstly,we need to clarify our own purpose of conducting the experiment;secondly,we must rightly face that experiments do exists as a kind of method;finally,we should have objective and reasonable evaluation and attitudes on game experiments.In addition,when the results of experiment are used as evidence to research some social science,we need to distinguish the cause of the discrepancy between the evidence and the theory correctly.For any hypothesis of a theory has its realm of application.No matter how carefully designed,experiments will have artificial influences.So experimenters should make reasonable trade-offs.It’s wrong to deny the value of the game theory just basing on the discrepancy of evidence and prediction.It the same as you use a tool to produce something,the product is inconsistent with the vision.Problems may not be the tools,but some productive or environmental issues are.Of course,we first need to determine whether the tools are rightly used because any instrumental theory has its own applicable realm.