What Is General Criticism on Standard Game Theory?


Vincent White

Game theory is a mathematical approach that studies decision-making scenarios involving two or more players. Game theory has been widely used in economics, political science, and other fields to analyze strategic behavior. Standard game theory has been used to model various situations, but it has faced criticism for its assumptions and limitations.

Criticism on Standard Game Theory:

One of the main criticisms of standard game theory is that it assumes that all the players are rational and have complete information about the game. This assumption may not hold in real-life situations, where players may not be able to gather all the necessary information or may not act rationally.

Another criticism of standard game theory is that it assumes that players are self-interested and are only concerned with maximizing their own payoffs. This assumption may not hold in situations where players have social preferences or care about the welfare of others.

Furthermore, standard game theory assumes that players always make decisions simultaneously, without any communication between them. In reality, players often communicate with each other before making decisions, which can affect the outcome of the game.

Moreover, standard game theory does not take into account the possibility of incomplete information or imperfect competition in a market. It does not allow for the analysis of games where one player has more information than others or where there is uncertainty about the payoffs.

Alternative approaches:

To address some of these limitations of standard game theory, alternative approaches have been developed. One such approach is behavioral game theory, which takes into account human behavior and psychology in decision-making scenarios. It considers factors like emotions, biases, and heuristics that affect decision making.

Another approach is evolutionary game theory, which studies how strategies evolve over time through natural selection. It can be used to explain phenomena like cooperation and altruism in social dilemmas.

Mechanism design theory is another alternative approach that considers how to design mechanisms or institutions to achieve desirable outcomes in a strategic environment. It is used to design auctions, voting systems, and other mechanisms that govern social interactions.


Although standard game theory has faced criticism for its assumptions and limitations, it remains a useful tool for modeling strategic decision-making scenarios. Alternative approaches like behavioral game theory, evolutionary game theory, and mechanism design theory provide a more comprehensive understanding of human behavior in strategic situations. By considering the limitations of standard game theory and exploring alternative approaches, we can gain deeper insights into decision-making processes in various fields.


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