Empathy in Bimatrix Games

Brian Powers, Michalis Smyrnakis, Hamidou Tembine

Although the definition of what empathetic preferences exactly are is still evolving, there is a general consensus in the psychology, science and engineering communities that the evolution toward players' behaviors in interactive decision-making problems will be accompanied by the exploitation of their empathy, sympathy, compassion, antipathy, spitefulness, selfishness, altruism, and self-abnegating states in the payoffs. In this article, we study one-shot bimatrix games from a psychological game theory viewpoint. A new empathetic payoff model is calculated to fit empirical observations and both pure and mixed equilibria are investigated. For a realized empathy structure, the bimatrix game is categorized among four generic class of games. Number of interesting results are derived. A notable level of involvement can be observed in the empathetic one-shot game compared the non-empathetic one and this holds even for games with dominated strategies. Partial altruism can help in breaking symmetry, in reducing payoff-inequality and in selecting social welfare and more efficient outcomes. By contrast, partial spite and self-abnegating may worsen payoff equity. Empathetic evolutionary game dynamics are introduced to capture the resulting empathetic evolutionarily stable strategies under wide range of revision protocols including Brown-von Neumann-Nash, Smith, imitation, replicator, and hybrid dynamics. Finally, mutual support and Berge solution are investigated and their connection with empathetic preferences are established. We show that pure altruism is logically inconsistent, only by balancing it with some partial selfishness does it create a consistent psychology.

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