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Two co-conspiratorial criminals are arrested. When they are taken to the police station, they refuse to say anything and are put in separate interrogation rooms. Eventually, a police officer enters the room where Prisoner A is being held and says: “You know what? Your partner in the other room is confessing. So your partner is going to get a light prison sentence of just one year, and because you’re remaining silent, the judge is going to stick you with eight years in prison. Why don’t you get smart? If you confess, too, we’ll cut your jail time down to five years, and your partner will get five years, also.” Over in the next room, another police officer is giving exactly the same speech to Prisoner B. What the police officers do not say is that if both prisoners remain silent, the evidence against them is not especially strong, and the prisoners will end up with only two years in jail each.

The game theory situation facing the two prisoners is shown in [link] . To understand the dilemma, first consider the choices from Prisoner A’s point of view. If A believes that B will confess, then A ought to confess, too, so as to not get stuck with the eight years in prison. But if A believes that B will not confess, then A will be tempted to act selfishly and confess, so as to serve only one year. The key point is that A has an incentive to confess regardless of what choice B makes! B faces the same set of choices, and thus will have an incentive to confess regardless of what choice A makes. Confess is considered the dominant strategy or the strategy an individual (or firm) will pursue regardless of the other individual’s (or firm’s) decision. The result is that if prisoners pursue their own self-interest, both are likely to confess, and end up doing a total of 10 years of jail time between them.

The prisoner’s dilemma problem
Prisoner B
Remain Silent (cooperate with other prisoner) Confess (do not cooperate with other prisoner)
Prisoner A Remain Silent (cooperate with other prisoner) A gets 2 years, B gets 2 years A gets 8 years, B gets 1 year
Confess (do not cooperate with other prisoner) A gets 1 year, B gets 8 years A gets 5 years B gets 5 years

The game is called a dilemma because if the two prisoners had cooperated by both remaining silent, they would only have had to serve a total of four years of jail time between them. If the two prisoners can work out some way of cooperating so that neither one will confess, they will both be better off than if they each follow their own individual self-interest, which in this case leads straight into longer jail terms.

The oligopoly version of the prisoner’s dilemma

The members of an oligopoly can face a prisoner’s dilemma, also. If each of the oligopolists cooperates in holding down output, then high monopoly profits are possible. Each oligopolist, however, must worry that while it is holding down output, other firms are taking advantage of the high price by raising output and earning higher profits. [link] shows the prisoner’s dilemma for a two-firm oligopoly—known as a duopoly    . If Firms A and B both agree to hold down output, they are acting together as a monopoly and will each earn $1,000 in profits. However, both firms’ dominant strategy is to increase output, in which case each will earn $400 in profits.

Questions & Answers

can someone explain cardinal and ordinal utility for me please?
faith Reply
sir please explain industrial economist and its important
Please how can someone maximise profit in business?
how to calculate profit maximization
Daudi Reply
what is fiscal policy
Adewale Reply
it is the government policy in which uses expenditures and taxes to regurate the economy by applying either contractionary or expansionary FISCAL policy
Hello. Please explain shortly
nourhan Reply
what happens when maximum price is placed above equilibrium price
Christian Reply
the demand curve falls
there will be excess supply
explain the term : law of demand and it's function
Evacon Reply
law of demand state that the higher the price the lower the quantity demanded and vice versa
Está correto, sua função também é a de estabilizar o mercado do produto em questão, seu preço, sua produção, etc.
what are raw materials
Fatmah Reply
the basic material from which a product is made. "these could be used as raw material"
fatmah raw material, also known as a feedstock, oky is a basic material that is used to produce goods, finished products, energy, or intermediate materials that are feedstock for future finished products. just to make outputs.
oh yeah I got it .. thank you for your help 😊
hello my dear friends
Any notes on ppf.?
can anyone clarify features of internal efficiency with reference to education
raw material can also be said to be organic materials that haven't gone through any form of processing.
in an open economy, the GDP is measured as ?
jacobs Reply
what is Labour of supply.
Eshmel Reply
it is called supply of labour
it is the total number of those the producer is expected to employ at a given time and at an existing wage rate
it is a sum number of employees the manufacturer wish to employ in a period of time , and at a given wage rate
if the price of yam increases what will happen to demand curve?
Lawal Reply
the demand curve will decrease
with table and diagrametic illustration
Usama Reply
if the price elasticity of demand for a commodity is zero the demand curve is
Aryan Reply
the demand curve is inelastic
this is because price bring about a lesser change in quantity demanded
how are we going to draw scale of preference
Achor Reply
how do we identify choice
how do we identify opportunity cost
opportunity cost is the forgone alternative. in oder words, it is the sacrificed goods or service for another. thus, the item you did not buy with the resources you have thereby buying another one is called opportunity cost. thanks
Opportunity cost considers only the next best alternative to an action, not the entire set of alternatives, and takes into account all of the differences between the two choices.
IAC curve is geueraly
Subham Reply
what are the benefits or tourism?
Maake Reply

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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