Game theory and behavioral economics are two popular fields of study that explore the decision-making processes of individuals and groups in different contexts. While these two fields share some similarities, they also have key differences that set them apart.

Game Theory:

Game theory is a branch of mathematics that studies the interactions between individuals or groups in strategic situations. It applies mathematical models to analyze the behavior of rational decision-makers in situations where the outcome depends on the choices made by all players involved. Game theory assumes that people act rationally, which means they make decisions based on their self-interest and seek to maximize their own benefits.

In game theory, a “game” is any situation where there are two or more players who have to make decisions based on their goals and the actions of others. The outcomes of these games depend on the strategies chosen by each player, which can lead to cooperative or competitive behavior. Some common examples of games studied in game theory include the prisoner’s dilemma, matching pennies, and chicken.

Behavioral Economics:

Behavioral economics is a field that combines psychology and economics to understand how people make decisions in real-life situations. Unlike game theory, behavioral economics takes into account human biases and emotions that can influence decision-making processes. Behavioral economists believe that people do not always act rationally, but instead are influenced by cognitive biases like loss aversion or confirmation bias.

Behavioral economics studies how people make decisions when faced with uncertainty, risk, and incomplete information. It explores why people often make choices that appear irrational or contradictory to their own self-interests. Some common examples of topics studied in behavioral economics include consumer behavior, social preferences, and decision-making under risk.

The Key Differences:

One key difference between game theory and behavioral economics is their assumptions about human behavior. Game theory assumes that individuals act rationally and seek to maximize their own benefits while making decisions. Behavioral economics, on the other hand, recognizes that people are influenced by emotions and cognitive biases that can affect their decision-making processes.

Another difference between these two fields is their focus. Game theory is primarily concerned with strategic interactions between individuals or groups in a given situation, while behavioral economics focuses on how people make decisions in real-life situations.


In summary, game theory and behavioral economics are two distinct fields that explore different aspects of decision-making processes. While both fields have some similarities, they differ in their assumptions about human behavior and their focus. Understanding these differences can help researchers and practitioners apply the appropriate theories and models to analyze real-world problems.