Experimental economics and Moliere’s *Tartuffe*

by on April 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm in Economics, History, The Arts | Permalink

From Bertrand Crettez and Régis Deloche, forthcoming in JEBO:

Numerous papers show how game theory can improve our understanding of literature. There is no paper, however, using experimental economics to arrive at a new understanding of a play. We fill this gap by using experimental evidence to compare the last two versions of Molière’s Tartuffe. In the final version of the play, there are two stag hunt games, one without pre-game communication and one with. In the first game players fail to coordinate to the efficient equilibrium but in the second one they do, which is consistent with experimental evidence. In the penultimate version of the play, there is pre-game communication in the first stag hunt game but players fail to coordinate to the efficient equilibrium, which is not consistent with experimental evidence. By removing the pre-game communication from the first game, Molière adapted his play as if he had been a student of modern behavioral game theory.

Enrique April 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Is there a non-gated version of the paper out there?

Rahul April 8, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Isn’t this a bit like finding secret codes embedded in the Bible?

LB April 8, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Well, there might be a multiple comparisons problem (we don’t know how many texts they analyzed before they settled on one that works), but I think it’s closer to performing an experiment with a sample size of 2.

Thor April 8, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Steven Brams, an expert on Game Theory, has written a book on Game Theory as applied to the Bible: “Biblical Games”, a good book.

drea April 8, 2013 at 8:12 pm
BCC April 8, 2013 at 10:37 pm

When I get done with Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter I’ll have to give this a look.

mkt April 9, 2013 at 4:05 am

Cute idea, but my first question was how good is the execution? Positive blurbs from Schelling, McCloskey, Dixit, et al are a good sign. Economists aren’t generally great at identifying good literature, but they are good at identifying good readings about economics.

LemmusLemmus April 9, 2013 at 7:19 am

This sounds like the authors’ main aim in writing the paper was to have the abstract quoted on Marginal Revolution.

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