The game behind the unmanned newsstand

  The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a hypothetical classic thought experiment used to describe the difficulty of individual rational cooperative behavior. If human behavior is absolutely rational, then everyone will choose to betray. If someone chooses to cooperate, it means that he/she lacks the ability to use their reason.
  The Prisoner’s Dilemma has many applications in daily life. For example, if you run a milk tea shop, there is usually a competitor on the same street. You used to have a tacit understanding, that is, do your own thing, but never fight a price war. The cost of milk tea is very low and the profit margin is very high. If everyone sets the price too high, then everyone can enjoy a higher profit margin, otherwise it will be a lose-lose.
  Recently, a popular product has appeared on the market, and it is selling well in other cities. Naturally, both of you have noticed this, and both of you are preparing to launch similar popular milk teas. If done well, it is estimated that this milk tea can bring half of its daily turnover. So, do you still have to abide by the original tacit agreement and set the price too high?
  If you both still keep the tacit agreement, then everyone is happy. But if one party realizes that this is an excellent opportunity, if the price of this milk tea is too low, close to the cost, and the other party is still foolishly maintaining a high price, then they can take the opportunity to grab the market of the entire street. You think this way, and the other party thinks the same way, so the end result is that both sides betray at the same time, set low prices at the same time, and at the same time lose a lot in the price war, and no one gains anything.
  There are many more such examples. In some western countries, newsstands have neither administrators nor locks. People who buy newspapers can take the newspapers after they put down their money. Of course it is possible for some people to take the newspaper and not pay, but such people are very rare. Because everyone knows that if you do this yourself, the newsstand will have to send an administrator to look after it. The administrator’s salary will be spread over each newspaper, which is not good for everyone. This is also a prisoner’s dilemma game.
  In the practice of the Prisoner’s Dilemma, do most people choose to betray? Will the outcome of that obviously better cooperation between the two parties emerge? TV writers noticed the problem before economists. The BBC has a reality show called “Golden Ball”.
  The general rules for each episode of Golden Balls are roughly this: 100 Golden Balls, worth between £10 and £75,000, are initially placed in a gashapon-like machine. The staff randomly pulled 12 balls out of it to shuffle the order, and added 4 additional “killer balls” for a total of 16 balls, which were randomly assigned to 4 players.
  Then all the players will discuss together and introduce the value of the golden ball in their hands. Of course, there may be deception and concealment. The common wish of everyone is that the higher the combined value of the golden balls in hand, the better, because the final share is related to how much money was saved in the first stage. Then everyone voted anonymously, and a contestant was eliminated based on the vote. Then do it again, knocking out one more player, and in the end there are only two left.
  And then into the best part of the episode – the prisoner’s dilemma game. The two players have two possible options, “split” or “steal”, both of which start with s. If one person chooses points and the other chooses to steal, the person who chooses to steal will receive the full bonus, and the person who chooses points will not receive a cent. If both of them choose to steal, then both of them will get nothing and return empty-handed. If both pick points, then each gets half of the prize money.
  The best part of the whole show is the dialogue between the two parties before making a choice. Many people choose to start by stating their family history, “I have lost both my parents since I was a child, and I have no one to rely on, but there are many kind people around me who have helped me and made me survive. So I am very grateful that there are many good people in this society. Also be a good person and pass on this kindness. So, you can fully trust me, I will choose to share rather than steal.”
  The authenticity of these statements is not testable. Many people’s performance can be regarded as sincere, and some tears are almost shed. But all these statements and performances are not directly related to the final choice. Sometimes, one minute before, he was still swearing and swearing in the name of God, and the next second, he chose to steal and the other party chose to score. At this time, the players jumped up excitedly, and God did not know where.
  At other times, whoever chooses to steal wins, and the other party chooses points. He obviously won, but his expression was a little stiff, a little embarrassed, embarrassed to look at each other, and even embarrassed to shake hands with each other again. The host concluded, “This is the game”, and the episode ended here, leaving the audience to silently experience the wonderful performances of the previous players.
  ”Golden Ball” has a total of more than 300 episodes, which is equivalent to doing more than 300 prisoner’s dilemma games. It has been able to meet the minimum requirements of statistics and can be used for research and analysis.
  The famous experimental economist and Nobel Laureate in Economics Taylor systematically studied the more than 300 episodes of the “Golden Globe” program. Let’s take a look at some of the patterns they found in TV shows.
  First, individual players choose to cooperate 53% of the time on average. This proves that people don’t always choose to betray in the prisoner’s dilemma. Moreover, in the presence of prior communication, the possibility of choosing to cooperate even exceeds the possibility of choosing to betray. This result, of course, once again shakes the rational man hypothesis.
  Second, the cooperation tendency of the contestants is related to the amount. But this amount is not an absolute amount, but a relative amount. For example, in the past few episodes, everyone has to pay tens of thousands of pounds in the end, and this time we have to pay only 3,000 pounds. 3,000 pounds is definitely a lot of money in the worldly sense. But the contestants will compare with past shows, not from their own situation, so they will look down on the money. Taylor called this phenomenon the “big peanut phenomenon.” Players are just competing for a bigger peanut. If so, why not be nice to each other? As a result, the possibility of cooperation between the two parties has been greatly enhanced.
  Third, contestants are less likely to cooperate if their opponents try to remove themselves from the show in the first two rounds of the game. It’s a reciprocal inner preference, you were nice to me in the past, and I’m nice to you now. Since you were not good to me in the past, don’t think that I am good to you now.
  Fourth, there is little evidence that a contestant’s tendency to cooperate correlates with the likelihood of an opponent’s cooperation. That is, there are few strategies for attracting cooperation by proving that you will cooperate.
  Fifth, and a point of concern to many, young men are less cooperative than young women. However, this gender effect was reversed for older contestants, with older males being more cooperative than older females. Men become more cooperative as they age.
  Taylor’s research has drawn more scholars to the show. After two biologists studied the program, there were many new discoveries. Their focus is not quite the same as what the economists found. What they found included:
  First, players were less likely to cooperate when they discovered that their end-game partner had previously lied about the value of their golden ball. Players will think that someone who has ever lied is unreliable.
  Second, the two players will have a long dialogue and exchange before the game. In communication, often one party is active and the other is passive. The active party always has to promise, and he must choose to share the money. And the final result shows that these players who actively committed to share the money are indeed more likely to choose to cooperate.
  Third, when the players are communicating, some players will laugh more and even make a sound of laughter. Others were more calm and undisturbed. The final results showed that the laughing contestants were more likely to choose to cooperate.
  Fourth, during the communication process, some players will take the initiative to make some physical contact, shake hands with each other, pat each other on the shoulder and so on. The results showed that players who actively made physical contact were less likely to choose to cooperate, and players who were touched were also less likely to choose to cooperate. Physical contact did not build confidence in mutual trust.
  Finally, I will introduce the most wonderful “Golden Globe” program in my opinion. The final prisoner’s dilemma game is played between a player named Nick and another player named Iprasin. Nick said straight to the point: “You have to believe me, I promise I will choose to steal.” Iprasin almost thought he heard it wrong: “What are you talking about?” All the players came up with promises, I will choose Cooperation, how do you promise to choose to steal. Nick said, I will definitely choose to steal, but I will give you half of my prize money after the game. The host has never heard such remarks, so that both parties confirm that this kind of commitment is invalid and has nothing to do with the program team. If Nick was unwilling to give the money to Iprasin afterwards, there was nothing the show crew could do.
  Iprasin repeatedly persuaded Nick to give up on the absurd idea. Nick is unwavering, if you trust me, you choose to split, so I take all the money and give you half afterward. If you don’t trust me, you choose to steal. The big deal is that both of us have nothing.
  In the end, both sides came out with results. Surprisingly, both Iprasin and Nick finally chose points and cooperation, and the two unexpectedly achieved the best results. Afterwards, Nick said meaningfully that he wanted to choose cooperation from the beginning. But only by insisting on the attitude of non-cooperation and insisting on stealing, can he finally guarantee the cooperation result he hopes.