“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” — STANISLAW LEC
The prisoner’s dilemma is a game that demonstrate why two purely rational individuals might not cooperate in their quest for profit maximization and wealth accumulation  when it is in their best interests to do so.  The game theory, was originally discovered at the Rand cooperation by Merrill Flood and Dresher Mellvin in 1950 .

The prisoners dilemma concerns the strategic decision-making of two prisoners suspected by the police of the crime. The police have gathered enough evidence to convict both prisoners of a minor offence, but confession by one of them would allow for a more serious offence and a longer sentence. To improve the chances of obtaining a confession from one of them, there is an incentive structured by the judicial system by deliberately adjusting the penalties as follows:

If neither prisoner confesses and remain silent, each will be imprisoned for 3 years, if either one of the prisoners confesses, while the other remains silent, the confessing prisoner will go free, and the non-confessing prisoner will be sentenced to 3 years in prison, finally, if both prisoners confess, each will be sentenced to 1 years in prison. This is how it goes:

(Wikipedia, 2012)
Prisoner B stays silent (cooperates) Prisoner B betrays (defects)
Prisoner A stays silent (cooperates) Each serves 1 year Prisoner A: 3 years
Prisoner B: goes free
Prisoner A betrays (defects) Prisoner A: goes free
Prisoner B: 3 years Each serves 2 years

So where is the Dilemma?  Tuomela, 1992) , noted that:

“The problem of collective action can then be taken in a preliminary way to be a dilemma or conflict between collectively and individually best action, where the action required for achieving the collectively best outcome or goal is different from (and in conflict with) the action required for achieving the individually best outcome”

The tragedy
The Tragedy of the Commons, is also a social dilemma, but a little different from the prisoners. It has created economic, social and environmental imbalances in societies, for example Fisheries. It is characterised by public goods and “free riders, the rational best interest for an individual sharing the common good,

“For that which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it. Every one thinks chiefly of his own, hardly at all of the common interest; and only when he is himself concerned as an individual. For besides other considerations, everybody is more inclined to neglect the duty which he expects another to fulfil; as in families many attendants are often less useful than a few. Each citizen will have a thousand sons who will not be his sons individually but anybody will be equally the son of anybody, and will therefore be neglected by all alike.”    From Aristotle’s “Politics”, written c.a. 350 BC

It is obvious that the best outcome for both prisoners was to cooperate and stayed silent, however, the default settings of the prisoner’s dilemma assume that the prisoners are not given the chance to work out such strategy as they are interested in their own wellbeing and would choose to confess, even though is not in their best interest. The “confess” is the dominant strategy and the Nash equilibrium in this dilemma. Pursuing individual reward leads both of the prisoners to betray one another, their rational self-interest.

In summary, the commons problem or the prisoner’s dilemma is a way of understanding the crucial roles that institutions play in structuring the payoffs that in turn creates incentives for strategic choices. A group whose members pursue rational self-interest may all end up worse off than a group who acts the contrary.


2 Responses to “PRISONERS DILEMMA”

  1. celcocourier1 Says:

    What a fantastic peace of research, it illustrate the commons tragedy in a very simple explanation with clarity and academic analysis well done keep it up

  2. celcocourier1 Says:

    What a fantastic piece of research, it illustrates the commons tragedy in a very simple explanation with clarity and academic analysis well done keep it up

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