In the largest published PDG [prison dilemma game] experiment (Rapoport & Chammah 1965), almost 50 percent of strategy choices were cooperative, and even in experiments using one-shot PDGs, many players cooperate, to their mutual advantage.

This is the PGM:

If A and B each betray the other, each of them serves 2 years in prison If A betrays B but B remains silent, A will be set free and B will serve 3 years in prison (and vice versa) If A and B both remain silent, both of them will only serve 1 year in prison (on the lesser charge).

So, we go against our interest like 50% of the time.

Let us assume people are like that in "life", that its a sound experiment, that it does reflect our social interactions.

So, why does everyone expect NAY encourage, the self interested voter?

1 Answer 1


It is impossible to actually get a pure one-shot PDG. In reality, 100% of participants are part of a society. One of the functions society provides is creating a structure which encourage individuals to work around prisoners dilemmas.

One wording might be "The participants have to trust eachother to win the PDG, or do they? It may be enough if both participants trust society to produce an opposing player who is trustworthy."

We encourage the direction we believe society needs to train the next generation. If we were in an Eastern culture, we may encourage honor rather than self interest (or we may not... cultures shift all the time). At the present moment, it is my opinion that western culture is rewarding more individual self interest. If you have evidence that this self-interest approach is not culture specific, I'd love to see them (so I can learn).

  • in theory, you can achieve it, if participants would be anonimous ..
    – c69
    Feb 16, 2015 at 0:21
  • Anonymous, and not raised by a society. Otherwise the society will bring in norms, such as "goodness" "god" "love" or any of a host of words which tie any two humans together (even if by the thinnest threads).
    – Cort Ammon
    Feb 16, 2015 at 0:38

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