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Effective Choice in the Prisoner's Dilemma

Robert Axelrod
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Robert Axelrod: Institute of Public Policy Studies University of Michigan

Journal of Conflict Resolution, 1980, vol. 24, issue 1, 3-25

Abstract: This is a “primer†on how to play the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma game effectively. Existing research approaches offer the participant limited help in understanding how to cope effectively with such interactions. To gain a deeper understanding of how to be effective in such a partially competitive and partially cooperative environment, a computer tournament was conducted for the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. Decision rules were submitted by entrants who were recruited primarily from experts in game theory from a variety of disciplines: psychology, political science, economics, sociology, and mathematics. The results of the tournament demonstrate that there are subtle reasons for an individualistic pragmatist to cooperate as long as the other side does, to be somewhat for-giving, and to be optimistic about the other side's responsiveness.

Date: 1980
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