Game Theory Speculations

Although I have a general layperson’s familiarity with game theory, and a slightly more rigorous knowledge of (formal) human psychology, my knowledge is hardly extensive.

I’ve just thought of an interesting situation whose dynamics I do not know:

If two people are playing an extended Prisoners’ Dilemma for a large but unknown number of rounds, the matrices they’re given differ in their payoffs (not merely in a proportional way), and absolutely no communication is permitted between the two other than cooperation-defection notices, could either player detect that seemingly-irrational behavior on the part of the other was actually rationality applied to different perceptions?

I do wonder how much our seemingly irrational behavior is really just rational preferences we don’t explicitly compare with others’.


2 Responses to “Game Theory Speculations”

  1. this is similar to my take on the story over on OB. namely, you can justify the behavior of the disadvantaged player by pointing to sexual selection and to the behavior of the advantaged player as utilitarian.

  2. Regarding that OB situation and discussion:

    Neither player has to do more work or accept a greater risk in choosing to defect or cooperate. The difference in outcomes comes entirely from the unusual configuration of the grid values.

    In such a situation, I would be annoyed if I were the person who got the lesser benefit, and in a real-life situation that permitted more flexibility, I would want (and would put into practice if I were the dominant player) a “fairer” resolution.

    We have good reasons to be annoyed when people who are equally deserving of reward receive disparate outcomes.

    I don’t consider a “fairer” outcome to be quasi-socialism. It’s just part of a more complex, longer-term strategy than such a simple and short game permits.

    Now, if one player had to do more difficult calculations, extra work, or accept a greater risk, it’s entirely appropriate that they should get more out of doing so. But in this situation, that’s not the case.

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