prisoner's dilemma

(redirected from prisoner's dilemmas)
Also found in: Dictionary.

Prisoner's Dilemma

A classic problem in game theory. In the problem, two suspects are arrested and questioned separately by police. If one accuses the other while the other remains silent, the accuser will go free and the silent party will go to jail for 10 years. If each accuses the other, both go to prison for five years. If both remain silent, they only go to jail for one year. According to the dilemma, the rational response for each of the prisoners is to accuse the other (maximizing the possibility each will go free), even though this produces an irrational result (that both go to jail for five years).

The prisoner's dilemma is used to explain a variety of economic and political phenomena when all parties involved are self-interested, rational and have imperfect information. For example, two companies may compete for a promising employee. They offer increasingly attractive salaries. If one company gives up, the other company will take the employee. So both quite rationally increase the offers. This however could produce the irrational result that a new employee is paid too highly. The prisoner's dilemma seeks to explain why rational actions sometimes lead to irrational conclusions.

prisoner's dilemma

see GAME THEORY.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
The abstraction of the prisoner's dilemma relies on an artifice that the prisoners cannot communicate--or will not trust each other if they can.
207) For people who value the exclusive goods or services, then, cross-subsidies transform the prisoner's dilemma of choosing whether to pay for cultural works into a much less problematic consumer transaction.
King's experiment illustrates how producers can restructure markets for digital goods to escape the prisoner's dilemma.
Unlike the prisoner's dilemma of conventional cultural production, we can expect a positive level of cooperation in ex ante crowdfunding models where the benefit of getting access to the final product outweighs the cost of being a sucker.
Here, the prisoner's dilemma narrative might be advanced to serve libertarian ends.
For a concise explanation of prisoner's dilemma games as well as an argument that scholars often mistake coordination problems for prisoner's dilemma problems, see generally Richard H.
N-Person Prisoner's Dilemmas," Journal of Mathematical Sociology 2, 1, pp.
If this is the case, then what are economics students to make of the Prisoner's Dilemma (hereafter, PD); where the rational choice of strategy by both players collectively leads to an outcome that is suboptimal for both (Rapoport and Chammah 1965).
It is my contention that the current status of the Prisoner's Dilemma in economics reflects the aforementioned conditioning that has beset economics students' performance in PD experiments because the purely numerical assessment of payoffs in PD games presupposes a moral vacuum.
In this section I examine four ethical facets of the Prisoner's Dilemma that often go overlooked in standard economic treatments of the game.
2) On a popular interpretation of Newcomb's problem, (16) choosing one box amounts to cooperating in prisoner's dilemmas, or simulates cooperating, or is perceived to simulate cooperating, or is perceived by the agent to confirm his own cooperativeness.
Transaction, 1997]) favor a genetic polymorphism by race, but do not draw their evidence from prisoner's dilemma data.