Portrait of Martin Dufwenberg
Martin Dufwenberg has been appointed honorary doctor at the School of Business, Economics and Law.
Photo: Jessica Oscarsson

New honorary doctor specialist in psychological game theory


Martin Dufwenberg, Professor of Economics at the University of Arizona, has been appointed honorary doctor at the School of Business, Economics and Law. He is a world-leading researcher in behavioral economics, with psychological game theory as his specialty. For example, he has developed a mathematical definition for kindness.

”I am incredibly proud and grateful that I have been named an honorary doctor. It is undoubtedly my greatest achievement,” says Martin Dufwenberg.

Martin Dufwenberg is Eller Professor of Economics at the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona, USA. He has previously worked at the universities in Uppsala and Stockholm and at Bocconi University in Italy. For a long time now, he spends longer periods every year at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg, where he contributes to research, seminar and conference activities, and the supervision of doctoral students.

His research uses game theory and experiments to explore topics in the field of behavioral economics. Among other things, he looks at how to incorporate emotions into economic analysis using an analytical framework called psychological game theory.

A toolbox for describing situations

Game theory is a toolbox that can be used to describe situations where multiple persons make decisions and influence each other. Psychological game theory is an extension of those methods, with which one can analyze how various psychological aspects, which economists typically do not take into account, affect behaviour. For example, one can study the importance of different emotions, such as anger, disappointment, regret, shame, and feelings of guilt, or reciprocity, i.e. the tendency to give back, both by returning favors and for revenge.

Martin Dufwenberg has developed a mathematical definition for kindness, which he comments on as follows:

“Kindness is important in reciprocity theory, where people are assumed to be kind if others are kind, and vice versa. A key aspect in this context is that it is not enough to describe what people do, one must also describe their intentions. For example, suppose I spill coffee on you. Am I kind? You must reflect on my intentions to answer that question if you are to be able to react in an adequate way. And the answer would probably be different depending on whether I did it on purpose or by accident. Techniques from psychological game theory are useful to formulate this.

Martin Dufwenberg will be conferred his honorary doctorate at the University of Gothenburg's Conferment of Doctoral Degrees ceremony on 20 October 2023.