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date: 25 November 2020

prisoners’ dilemma 

A Dictionary of Economics

Nigar Hashimzade,

Gareth Myles,

John Black

A two-player game that illustrates the conflict between private and social incentives, and the gains that can be obtained from making binding commitments. The name originated from a situation of two prisoners who must each choose between the strategies ‘Confess’ and ‘Don’t confess’ without knowing what the other will choose. The important feature of the game is that a lighter penalty follows for a prisoner who confesses when the other does not. The game is summarized in the pay-off matrix where the negative pay-offs can be interpreted as the disutility from imprisonment.... ...

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