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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Game Theory by Edward Rosenthal, Ph.D., Edward C. Rosenthal

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Prisoner’s Dilemma Experiments

We’ve seen a lot of games in this book, and have come to realize that the Prisoner’s Dilemma has remained the most fascinating and frustrating game of all. We know very well that the PD has a single, dominant strategy Nash equilibrium (when both players defect), which unfortunately leads to a poor outcome. How do people actually play the Prisoner’s Dilemma? Do they hew to the game-theoretic prescription or do they cooperate? Does it make a difference when the game is played over and over?

Early Findings

The very first PD experiment was run in 1950, right after Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher invented the game. That afternoon Flood and Dresher recruited two friends, economist Armen Alchian and mathematician ...

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