New Issues and Paradigms in Research on Social Dilemmas

pp 27-42

A Classification of Games by Player Type

  • Gary BornsteinAffiliated withThe Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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In this chapter, I lay out a classification of social situations—situations of interdependent decision making—based on the type of decision makers involved. Then, using this framework, I review the decision-making literature and point out the gaps that still exist in it. The classification of social situations, or games, builds on a distinction between three basic types of decision-making agents, or players: individuals, cooperative or unitary groups—groups whose members can reach a binding (and costless) agreement on a joint strategy—and non-cooperative groups— groups whose members act independently without being able to make a binding agreement. Pitting individuals (I), unitary groups (U), and non-cooperative groups (G) against one another, and adding nature as a potential “opponent,” generates the 3 (type of agent) × 4 (type of opponent) matrix depicted in Table 3.1.