Friday, November 23, 2007

An Interesting Game, and Some Dumb Humans


Are humans selfish by nature, or competitive, or fair?

Suppose you and another person participated in an exercise with two choices: either you receive five dollars, and the other person receives three dollars, or you receive seven dollars and the other person gets nine dollars? And suppose that you get to choose, all by yourself, every time?

Interestingly, there are three groups of results: People who want to win, and so choose less, as long as other player gets less still. People who are rational, and so choose more money, even if other player gets more. And (strangely) people who mix.

Dave Munger, COGNITIVE DAILY, on same topic, and root of thread.


br said...

Interesting studies, but I'm not comfortable with interpreting the results as depicting people's 'natural' preferences. 'Natural' suggests that people are born with a preference. As Dirty Munger illustrates, the results could differ significantly depending on the polled population and their likely backgrounds. It would be cool and really valuable from a marketing/advertising perspective to do this type of test on a big population, about which you have additional lifestyle information - geographics, age, religious enthusiasm, etc.

John Thacker said...

I assume that the people who mix try to do so in equal proportions so that it ends up "fair," with both people receiving the same amount of money. I don't think that that would be so obviously strange.

Mungowitz said...

"strange is as strange does," I suppose.

If I play the cooperative, "you get more," strategy, the total payoff is $16.

It is half that for the "I win!" play of I get more.

Were it 5, 3 and 3, 5, or symmetric, then sure. But I am hurting myself quite a bit just to make sure i hurt you even more. What is the reason for altruism, when I appear to value my relatie position?