Evolutionary Successful Strategies in a Transparent iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11454)


A Transparent game is a game-theoretic setting that takes action visibility into account. In each round, depending on the relative timing of their actions, players have a certain probability to see their partner’s choice before making their own decision. This probability is determined by the level of transparency. At the two extremes, a game with zero transparency is equivalent to the classical simultaneous game, and a game with maximal transparency corresponds to a sequential game. Despite the prevalence of intermediate transparency in many everyday interactions such scenarios have not been sufficiently studied. Here we consider a transparent iterated Prisoner’s dilemma (iPD) and use evolutionary simulations to investigate how and why the success of various strategies changes with the level of transparency. We demonstrate that non-zero transparency greatly reduces the set of successful memory-one strategies compared to the simultaneous iPD. For low and moderate transparency the classical “Win - Stay, Lose - Shift” (WSLS) strategy is the only evolutionary successful strategy. For high transparency all strategies are evolutionary unstable in the sense that they can be easily counteracted, and, finally, for maximal transparency a novel “Leader-Follower” strategy outperforms WSLS. Our results provide a partial explanation for the fact that the strategies proposed for the simultaneous iPD are rarely observed in nature, where high levels of transparency are common.


Evolutionary game theory iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma Transparent games 



We acknowledge funding from the Ministry for Science and Education of Lower Saxony and the Volkswagen Foundation through the program “Niedersächsisches Vorab”. Additional support was provided by the Leibniz Association through funding for the Leibniz ScienceCampus Primate Cognition and the Max Planck Society.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Georg-Elias-Mueller-Institute of PsychologyUniversity of GoettingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-OrganizationGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.Leibniz ScienceCampus Primate CognitionGöttingenGermany
  4. 4.German Primate Center - Leibniz Institute for Primate ResearchGöttingenGermany
  5. 5.Bernstein Center for Computational NeuroscienceGöttingenGermany
  6. 6.Max Planck Institute for Experimental MedicineGöttingenGermany
  7. 7.Campus Institute for Dynamics of Biological NetworksGöttingenGermany

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