Sunday, May 04, 2008



Hierarchy and prisoner’s dilemma

Prisoner’s dilemma
Games with dollars

This is meant as a remark to lecture 12 by Prof. Paul Bloom in Yale

10 us $ one offer is between 0 and 10, the other person can accept or reject the offer, if the offer is accepted then, it goes as said, if reject no one becomes anything. The game can be played once or in a row of 5 or ten tries. The problem is rationality, it is better to have only one dollar than no dollar, therefore even one dollar should be accepted, but…..if somebody is known as person who accepts low offers, then this person is exploited. So we should accept only offers of 4 or 5 dollars, thus making the amount of dollars obtained by both parties approximately equal.

This explanation is good but I can suggest one that I perceive as much better explanation and that includes even higher level of rationality. Well, actually lower, but the one that dominates the world of living creatures: the rationality of hierarchy. As we do not like to be much lower in the human hierarchy as the persons we usually meet, we do not accept offers lower than 4 dollars, as in such a case the difference in amounts of dollars obtained would be too high and caused unpleasant feelings about one’s own position in the hierarchy, it would be perceived as too low.

Thus we can see that we have double rationality, one based on simple rationality, that would force us to accept even one dollar out of ten, and the other based on the rationality of hierarchy, that prevent us from accepting indecent offer of one or two or three dollars. As accepting such offer would push us in comparison with the other person too low, we would not be equal anymore.

Therefore we can conclude that there is also rationality based on hierarchy, not only pure mathematical and logical rationality.

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