Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics that attempts to mathematically capture behavior in strategic situations, or games, in which an individual’s success in making choices depends on the choices of others. In his new book (a draft of which is available free online), Michael Chwe examines game theory in the context of literature—like the novels of Jane Austen:
Jane Austen’s six novels, among the most widely beloved in the English language, constitute a comprehensive analysis of strategic thinking. In this chapter, I survey each of them as chronicles of how a young woman learns strategic thinking skills, starting from as early as childhood. Strategic thinking not only helps you get married; strategic skill is part of being a grown woman, like Aunt Eller.
[. . . ]
The discussion in this chapter touches upon many topics discussed more systematically in the next chapter, such as the perils of overstrategicness, the distinction between strategicness and selﬁshness, the usefulness of seemingly self-defeating or even hysterical tactics, strategic partnership as the best foundation for marriage, strategic manipulation of yourself as well as other people, the ability to make good choices even when overpowered by emotion, the necessity of understanding others’ minds as different from your own, and the danger that pride and status consciousness can make you strategically stupid.