Teaching Students About the Prisoner’s Dilemma
The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a classic game theory concept which has several real-life applications, including in criminal justice and business practices. It is important to introduce students to the dilemma so they can understand how cooperation and self-interest play into decision-making, and how it may affect the outcome of a situation.
The game illustrates the conflict between individual rationality and group rationality, and how individuals’ behavior may influence outcomes in various situations. It is based on an imagined scenario of two criminals who are caught, but each criminal does not know what the other will say to the police, and so they have to make a decision that involves weighing their options.
If both individuals remain silent, they both serve a shorter sentence. However, if one person betrays the other by confessing, the betrayer is given a much shorter sentence, while the other will serve a much longer sentence. If both confess, they both serve a longer sentence, but not as long as if one remained silent while the other betrayed them.
This game provides an excellent example of how the pursuit of individual benefits and selfishness can lead to an unfavorable outcome for each player. It is an example of how cooperation can lead to a better outcome for everyone involved.
Teachers can use a visual representation of the game to help students understand the concept. This can be done through games like the “barrier game” where students are divided into pairs, and given the opportunity to communicate to each other without actually seeing the other player’s reaction.
Teachers can also use other real-life examples to explain the Prisoner’s Dilemma to students. For instance, the concept can also be used in a business setting, where two companies are competing with each other. If both companies decide to keep prices high, they both benefit, but if one company decides to lower their prices, while the other remains the same, the company that has lowered the prices will benefit in the short term. However, in the long run, it may not benefit them, and the other company may dominate the market.
The Prisoner’s Dilemma teaches students the importance of thinking about the outcomes of a decision before making a move. It is an important concept that helps students to understand how decisions, whether made independently or cooperatively, can either lead to mutual benefit or mutual loss.