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Prisoner’s Dilemma

The prisoner’s dilemma is a well-known paradigm in game theory with manifold applications in disciplines including economics, political philosophy, and evolutionary biology. It represents a social dilemma, in its classic form, between two players.

The First Prisoner’s Dilemma

The prisoner’s dilemma was invented by the researchers Melvin Dresher and Merrill Flood in 1950. In their original study, the game was not yet called prisoner’s dilemma, but “a non-cooperative pair.” The original prisoner’s dilemma was formulated as a normal form game with the following payoffs:

The payoff matrix was common knowledge and the payoffs were in pennies. The two players AA and JW made decisions simultaneously, played the game repeatedly (finitely) for 100 periods, and kept information on previous decisions.

Note that for this original study of the Prisoner’s ...

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