Encyclopedia of Operations Research and Management Science

2013 Edition
| Editors: Saul I. Gass, Michael C. Fu

Prisoner’s Dilemma

Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1153-7_200637

A two-person game where neither player knows the other’s play (action or decision) a priori. Imagine a situation where two criminals are isolated from each other and the police interrogator offers each the following deal: if the prisoner confesses and the confession leads to the conviction of the other prisoner, he goes free and the other prisoner gets 10 years in prison. However, if both confess, they each get 5 years. If neither confesses, there is enough evidence to convict both on a lesser offense and they both get one year. If there is no trust, then both will confess, whereas if there is complete trust, neither will. Since complete trust is rare, when the game is played one time, players almost always defect. When the game is played repeatedly and there is a chance for a long-term reward, wary cooperation with a willingness to punish defection is the best strategy. This game illustrates many social and business contracts and is important for understanding group behavior, both...

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  1. Poundstone, W. (1992). Prisoner’s dilemma. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013