Game theory models a strategic situation as a game in which an individual player’s success depends on the choices made by the other players involved in the game.

One excellent example is the game known as The Prisoner’s Dilemma, which is deliberately designed to demonstrate why two people might not cooperate – even if it is in both of their best interests to do so. Here is the classic scenario. Two criminal suspects are arrested, but the police have insufficient evidence for a conviction. So they separate the prisoners and offer each the same deal. If one testifies for the prosecution against the other (i.e., defects) and the other remains silent (i.e., cooperates), the defector goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full one-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only one month in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a three-month sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent.

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