Nash Equilibrium -Mental Model 083

Navigating Selfishness In Group Dynamics 

Every person in a group makes the optimal decision for himself, based on what he thinks others will do. And nobody can do better by changing strategy: every member of the group is doing as well as they possibly can.


Example: The prisoner’s dilemma is the classic Nash Equilibrium example: Two accomplices are locked in separate cells. Each is offered three choices by police:

  1. If both confess, both will be jailed for five years.
  2. If only one confesses, he will be freed but the non-confessor will be jailed for ten years.
  3. If neither confesses, both will be tried for a minor offense and will be jailed for one year.

For each prisoner, confessing is the best option: no matter what they think the other prisoner will do. If the other doesn’t confess, confessing will set them free. And if the other does confess, then they must confess themselves to avoid ten years jail time.


Wisdom: “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” ― Oscar Wilde


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