The Prisoner's Dilemma
Even if all members of a group would benefit if all cooperate, individual self-interest may not favor cooperation. The prisoner's dilemma codifies this problem and has been the subject of much research, both theoretical and experimental. Results from experimental economics show that humans often act more cooperatively than strict self-interest would seem to dictate. While economic experiments require subjects to make relatively abstract decisions for small stakes, evidence from natural experiments for high stakes support the claim that humans act more cooperatively than strict self-interest would dictate.
One reason may be that if the prisoner's dilemma situation is repeated (the iterated prisoner's dilemma), it allows non-cooperation to be punished more, and cooperation to be rewarded more, than the single-shot version of the problem would suggest. It has been suggested that this is one reason for the evolution of complex emotions in higher life forms, who, at least as infants, and usually thereafter, cannot survive without cooperating – although with maturation they gain much more choice about the kinds of cooperation they wish to have.
There are four main conditions that tend to be necessary for cooperative behaviour to develop between two individuals :
- An overlap in desires
- A chance of future encounters with the same individual
- Memory of past encounters with that individual
- A value associated with future outcomes
Read more about this topic: Cooperation
Famous quotes containing the words prisoner and/or dilemma:
“The son will run away from the family not at eighteen but at twelve, emancipated by his gluttonous precocity; he will fly not to seek heroic adventures, not to deliver a beautiful prisoner from a tower, not to immortalize a garret with sublime thoughts, but to found a business, to enrich himself and to compete with his infamous papa.”
—Charles Baudelaire (182167)
“Many women are surprised by the intensity of their maternal pull and the conflict it brings to their competing roles. This is the precise point at which many women feel the stress of the work/family dilemma most keenly. They realize that they may have a price to pay for wanting to be both professionals and mothers. They feel guilty for not being at work, and angry for being manipulated into feeling this guilt. . . . They dont quite fit at home. They dont quite fit at work.”
—Deborah J. Swiss (20th century)