What is the “Prisoner’s dilemma”?

Prisoner’s dilemma is one of the most famous examples of game theory. While it derived from economics, it can be applied to various areas ranging from biology to public administration.

Before I provide the readers the final conclusion of prisoner’s dilemma, I would first like to provide a situation that can display the outcome of prisoner’s dilemma.
“Tanya and Cinque have been arrested for robbing the Hibernia Savings Bank and placed in separate isolation cells. Both care much more about their personal freedom than about the welfare of their accomplice. A clever prosecutor makes the following offer to each. “You may choose to confess or remain silent. If you confess and your accomplice remains silent I will drop all charges against you and use your testimony to ensure that your accomplice does serious time. Likewise, if your accomplice confesses while you remain silent, they will go free while you do the time. If you both confess I get two convictions, but I’ll see to it that you both get early parole. If you both remain silent, I’ll have to settle for token sentences on firearms possession charges. If you wish to confess, you must leave a note with the jailer before my return tomorrow morning.”


The ‘dilemma’ faced by the prisoners here is that, whatever the other does, each is better off confessing than remaining silent. But the outcome obtained when both confess is worse for each than the outcome they would have obtained had both remained silent.”

It is best for both Tanya and Cinque to confess since they are unsure of what each other is doing. To conclude, prisoner’s dilemma is displaying that committing action for personal gain can produce negative outcome that will affect not only that person, but the whole group. When “prisoner’s dilemma” was first introduced, it truly was an eye-opening idea since it completely went against what the old society thought was the norm.




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