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Games, Information, and Politics

Applying Game Theoretic Models to Political Science

Scott Gates and Brian D. Humes

Publication Year: 1997

To study the strategic interaction of individuals, we can use game theory. Despite the long history shared by game theory and political science, many political scientists remain unaware of the exciting game theoretic techniques that have been developed over the years. As a result they use overly simple games to illustrate complex processes. Games, Information, and Politics is written for political scientists who have an interest in game theory but really do not understand how it can be used to improve our understanding of politics. To address this problem, Gates and Humes write for scholars who have little or no training in formal theory and demonstrate how game theoretic analysis can be applied to politics. They apply game theoretic models to three subfields of political science: American politics, comparative politics, and international relations. They demonstrate how game theory can be applied to each of these subfields by drawing from three distinct pieces of research. By drawing on examples from current research projects the authors use real research problems--not hypothetical questions--to develop their discussion of various techniques and to demonstrate how to apply game theoretic models to help answer important political questions. Emphasizing the process of applying game theory, Gates and Humes clear up some common misperceptions about game theory and show how it can be used to improve our understanding of politics. Games, Information, and Politics is written for scholars interested in understanding how game theory is used to model strategic interactions. It will appeal to sociologists and economists as well as political scientists. Scott Gates is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Michigan State University. Brian D. Humes is Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

We wrote this book for those political scientists who have an interest in game theory and want to know more. Most political scientists now know some rudimentary game theory but really do not understand how it can be used to improve our understanding of politics. Our intention is to address this problem...

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1. Modeling with Games

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pp. 12-22

A game involves situations in which individuals are aware that their actions affect one another. To study the strategic interaction of individuals, we use game theory. Social, political, and economic interactions abound with such strategic behavior. Politics, in particular, is inherently strategic...

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2. A Brief Introduction to Game Theoretic Models

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pp. 23-60

In this chapter, a brief overview of game theory is provided. This overview includes examinations of matrix form games, repeated games, extensive form games, and the equilibrium conditions connected with each...

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3. Strategic Choice and Progressive Ambition in American Politics: An Examination of Rohde's Model

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pp. 61-82

A common problem in political science is the usage of decision theory, implicitly or explicitly, to examine strategic interactions. Depending on the question being asked, using a decision theoretic focus may yield vastly different results than a game theoretic one will. By using decision theory instead of game theory to study political situations involving strategic interactions, scholars may...

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4. Dynamic Games and the Politics of International Trade: An Examination of Coneybeare's Trade Wars

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pp. 83-112

In this chapter we examine how game theory has been applied to the analysis of trade wars. Continuing with the theme of our book, we emphasize how game theoretic models can be used to model political phenomena with parsimony...

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5. Information and Transitions to Democracy: An Examination of Przeworski's Democracy and the Market

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pp. 113-140

Information plays a critical role in many political interactions. When political actors must make choices under uncertainty, they may act differently than they would if they possessed complete and perfect information. This chapter stresses how uncertainty...

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6. Commitment, Bluffs, and Reputation

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pp. 141-162

Any poker player will tell you that bluffing is an essential element of strategy. Bluffing is also important in strategic political interactions. When we bluff we manipulate an adversary's beliefs. As was demonstrated in the previous chapter, any player lacking complete information must rely on beliefs...

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7. Conclusion

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pp. 163-168

Over the last 15 years the use of game theory in political science has exploded in popularity. Pick up any copy of the American Political Science Review or the American Journal of Political Science and this becomes quite evident. Yet, a good proportion of the political science community has no background or training in this methodology. We provide an introductory overview...

References

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pp. 169-176

Index

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pp. 177-182


E-ISBN-13: 9780472027538
E-ISBN-10: 0472027530
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472065646
Print-ISBN-10: 0472065645

Page Count: 192
Illustrations: 32 tables
Publication Year: 1997

Series Title: Analytical Perspectives on Politics

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Subject Headings

  • Game theory.
  • Political science -- Mathematical models.
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