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More Effective Choice in the Prisoner's Dilemma

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

Journal of Conflict Resolution, 1980, vol. 24, issue 3, 379-403

Abstract: This study reports and analyzes the results of the second round of the computer tournament for the iterated Prisoner's Dilemma. The object is to gain a deeper understanding of how to perform well in such a setting. The 62 entrants were able to draw lessons from the results of the first round and were able to design their entries to take these lessons into account. The results of the second round demonstrate a number of subtle pitfalls which specific types of decision rules can encounter. The winning rule was once again TIT FOR TAT, the rule which cooperates on the first move and then does what the other player did on the previous move. The analysis of the results shows the value of not being the first to defect, of being somewhat forgiving, but also the importance of being provocable. An analysis of hypothetical alternative tournaments demonstrates the robustness of the results.

Date: 1980
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