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The Prisoner’s Dilemma

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1 year 0 years 10 years 0 years 5 years Confess Stonewall Player 1 Confess Stonewall Player 2

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Prisoner’s Dilemma - You clearly want to get out of this situation with as little jail time as possible. - You have no way to know what your counterpart will decide. - All you know is that Player 2 also will act in whatever way will minimize his or her own jail time.

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Prisoner’s Dilemma Imagine you are Player 1. Since your fate is dependent on the choice of Player 2, you debate what Player 2 will do. If Player 2 confesses and you stonewall (remain silent and admit nothing), then you get stuck with 10 years in prison. If Player 2 confesses and you confess, then you get 5 years in prison. If Player 2 stonewalls and you do too, you each get 1 year in prison. If Player 2 stonewalls and you confess, then you will go free. Therefore, no matter what Player 2 decides, the rational thing for you to do is confess, since in each case confessing gets you the lesser time in jail.

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Prisoner’s Dilemma However, you must remember that your opponent is just as rational as you are, and should also conclude that confession is the most rational option. Realizing this, you consider that if your opponent confesses, the smart bet is to stonewall and thus become free immediately, leaving your partner to take all the blame.

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Prisoner’s Dilemma

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