Five ways to escape a prisoners dilemma

Written by Barry Hughes Saturday, 15 October 2011 12:44
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If you find yourself in a prisoners dilemma there are some ways you can try to get out of it.

1 – Communication

In the normal definition of the problem the two prisoners are not able to communicate with each other. One way out of the problem is if the two can find a way to talk to each other and agree their course of action. Of course, even with this there is the risk that one will not stick to the agreement. To enforce the agreement may need one of the other tactics.

2 – Threats

If threats can be introduced into the game then the payoff for players that don’t co-operate can be lowered so that there is an incentive to co-operate. An example is if the two prisoners were members of the mafia. They know that whilst they could avoid a prison sentence by betraying the other prisoner they will be punished when they get out of prison. This makes it a better option to co-operate and serve a shorter prison sentence.

3 – Rewards...

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