International Journal of Game Theory

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 1–23

Games with randomly disturbed payoffs: A new rationale for mixed-strategy equilibrium points

  • John C. Harsanyi

DOI: 10.1007/BF01737554

Cite this article as:
Harsanyi, J.C. Int J Game Theory (1973) 2: 1. doi:10.1007/BF01737554


Equilibrium points in mixed strategies seem to be unstable, because any player can deviate without penalty from his equilibrium strategy even if he expects all other players to stick to theirs. This paper proposes a model under which most mixed-strategy equilibrium points have full stability. It is argued that for any gameΓ the players' uncertainty about the other players' exact payoffs can be modeled as a disturbed gameΓ*, i.e., as a game with small random fluctuations in the payoffs. Any equilibrium point inΓ, whether it is in pure or in mixed strategies, can “almost always” be obtained as a limit of a pure-strategy equilibrium point in the corresponding disturbed gameΓ* when all disturbances go to zero. Accordingly, mixed-strategy equilibrium points are stable — even though the players may make no deliberate effort to use their pure strategies with the probability weights prescribed by their mixed equilibrium strategies — because the random fluctuations in their payoffs willmake them use their pure strategies approximately with the prescribed probabilities.

Copyright information

© Physica-Verlag Rudolf Liebing KG 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Harsanyi
    • 1
  1. 1.Berkeley School of Business AdministrationUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA