Experiments on Cognition, Communication, Coordination, and Cooperation in Relationships

Annual Review of Economics

Vol. 11:167-191 (Volume publication date August 2019)


Vincent Crawford


This review discusses selected work in experimental game theory. My goals are to further the dialogue between theorists and empiricists that has driven progress in economics and game theory and to guide future experimental work. I focus on experiments whose lessons are relevant to establishing and maintaining coordination and cooperation in human relationships, the role of communication in doing so, and the underlying cognition. These are questions of central importance, where both the gap between theory and experience and the role of experiments in closing it seem large. Humans appear to be unique in their ability to use language to manipulate and communicate mental models of the world and of other people, vital skills in relationships. Continuing the dialogue between theorists and empiricists should help to explain why it matters for cooperation that we can communicate, and why and how it matters whether we communicate via natural language or abstract signals.


Annual Review of Economics