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Publisher's Summary

Game theory is the study of strategic decision-making in politics, sports, diplomacy, and a host of other areas, but especially in economics, where game theory flourishes. Understanding Economics: Game Theory introduces you to this fascinating field, which combines the fun and challenge of games with the logic of brain teasers. In 12 engaging half-hour lessons, Professor Jay R. Corrigan of Kenyon College analyzes such classic games as the prisoner’s dilemma and the hawk-dove game. While these particular games involve lawbreakers and animal rivalries, they have applications to many situations.

Each lesson is devoted to a handful of examples, which you investigate in detail, working out the possible strategies for the different competitors and their expected payoffs. Along the way, you discover why it’s hard to buy a good used car, why people confess to crimes they didn’t commit, why athletes ignore the risks and use performance-enhancing drugs, and how to bid in different kinds of auctions to increase your payoff—and also why you might regret winning one special type of auction.

Professor Corrigan covers fundamental concepts, such as dominant strategy and Nash equilibrium, the latter named for the reclusive genius who was profiled in the movie A Beautiful Mind. He teaches you how to diagram a game with a payoff matrix, which is a table that shows every player’s payoff based on the chosen strategies. You also practice backward induction, where you start at the game’s last round and work your way back to the beginning to determine your best opening move. These are all powerful tools for seeing the game from opposing points of view and uncovering an optimum strategy. After taking this course, you’ll know what to do the next time you bargain for a used car or get caught in the frenzy of an auction.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2021 The Great Courses (P)2021 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Understanding Economics

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The best entry point I've seen for game theory

As a law prof, I admire the work it takes to make something like this palatable and digestible for actual people. This is a gem.

7 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars

What A Waste

Of all the different economic books I have ordered this is the first I couldn't finish. It's been put in trash.

2 people found this helpful

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a good introduction to game theory

This book was good for me in that it introduced me to the functional use of game theory. Be advised however that because this is an audioboom, there are a few points where literal calculus gets spoken at you, which is less than productive. Still, I recommend this title for a little knowledge expansion. This title can prime you if you're intending to go down the game theory rabbit hole in the future.

2 people found this helpful

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Good Course. The PDF Would Be Helpful.

Good Course. The PDF Would Be Helpful. I learned a bit without the PDF or tracking the details of the equations but couldn't really "learn" it that way.

1 person found this helpful

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Should be learned by all

If you have heard people talk about game theory but didn’t understand what it meant this is the place to start

1 person found this helpful

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Game tbeory

I consider this very Loosely connected to economics. Save your time read something else, the word "economics" is mentioned frequently but I think the tie-in is very loose.

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I think I love decision making and game theory

This and other aspects of the great courses have me thinking about returning to university to focus on decision making and behavioral economics. So interesting.

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A Great Intro to Game Theory

Game Theory is something I hear about a lot, but don’t really understand. This set of Great Courses lectures was a great introduction to the topic. The first lectures take you through different game scenarios and teach you about human behavior when humans understand the consequences of their choices. The easiest was the classic “prisoners’ dilemma” in which the police catch two alleged criminals, take them into separate rooms, and interrogate them. If neither talks, they both go free. But if one talks and the other doesn’t, the talker gets a light prison sentence and the one who stayed quiet goes away for a long time. Corrigan shows why it is always in the prisoner’s interest to make the deal and “confess” (even if he or she is innocent).

These sorts of thought problems are fascinating and as they get more and more complex, Corrigan begins to apply them to the real world showing how to use game theory to make decisions. It gets very complicated very fast. If there is one weakness in what he described, it would seem to be that all sides have to know what is best for them or their actions will not be correctly anticipated, but the theory probably provides for that as well.

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Truly fascinating

This professor is not only excited about the subject, but also excellent at explaining it. The intended audience is simply an educated layman with an interest in the subject. Only a knowledge of high school algebra is required to follow the details.

I really enjoyed his explanation of Nash equilibriae, which I had struggled to understand in the past. I will definitely be seeking out other course offerings by him.

This was an audible plus title, but I would have cheerfully paid cash for it.

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Nothing to learn

Nothing to learn here. You don’t need education to decide a decision as the same as people didn’t get this education. Pretty obvious stuff that animals have figured out too.

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  • Chrissy
  • 05-12-22

Good but a bit short.

As the headline says. It scratches Game Theory but it's a bit short. Nevertheless there are interesting nuggets here.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Auguste Dupin
  • 02-03-22

Superb introduction to game theory

This is an excellent presentation of key concepts in game theory. It truly is a "great course" since Prof Corrigan goes through the (basic) mathematics of the games, and to get all the details you will definitely want the excellent PDF companion. But you should be able to get the basics just by listening, and then pick up the rest when you have some leisure. The examples are very good. As usual,, they tend to be from the USA, but for this topic its OK. Corrigan is a great speaker.

1 person found this helpful