Rationalizable behavior in the Hotelling-Downs model of spatial competition

J. van Sloun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We consider two scenarios of the Hotelling-Downs model of spatial competition. This setting has typically been explored using pure Nash equilibrium, but this paper uses point rationalizability (Bernheim, Econometrica J Economet Soc 52(4):1007-1028, 1984) instead. Pure Nash equilibrium imposes a correct beliefs assumption, which may rule out perfectly reasonable choices in a game. Point rationalizability does not have this correct beliefs assumption, which makes this solution concept more natural and permissive. The first scenario is the original Hotelling-Downs model with an arbitrary number of agents. Eaton and Lipsey (Rev Econ Stud 42(1):27-49, 1975) used pure Nash equilibrium as their solution concept for this setting. They showed that with three agents, there does not exist a pure Nash equilibrium. We characterize the set of point rationalizable choices for any number of agents and show that as the number of agents increases, the set of point rationalizable choices increases as well. In the second scenario, agents have limited attraction intervals (Feldman et al. Variations on the Hotelling-Downs model. In: Thirtieth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, pp 496-501, 2016). We show that the set of point rationalizable choices does not depend on the number of agents, apart from this number being odd or even. Furthermore, the set of point rationalizable choices shrinks as the attraction interval increases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-335
Number of pages27
JournalTheory and Decision
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • Hotelling-Downs model
  • Rationalizability
  • Spatial competition
  • Product differentiation
  • Static games


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