MINE: Game Theory Proves the Benefits of ‘Selfishness’

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Very interesting. Does that mean I don’t have to share my food with people, because that would be awesome.

As cynical as it sounds, the selfish find success in life.

So concludes a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Building on other studies of the “prisoner’s dilemma” and “game theory,” or the study of decision-making, the researchers, Joshua Plotkin and Alexander Stewart from the University of Pennsylvania, found that self-interest pays off.

While the study focuses on the theoretical mathematics behind general evolution, the same trends could apply to human thinking.

Last year, Plotkin and Stewart conducted similar research, determining that evolution actually favors altruism. The new study, however, adds a twist.

The model not only allows “players” to alter their strategies, but also their rewards. The results showed the exact opposite — that in the long-run, cooperation tends to collapse.

“It’s a somewhat depressing evolutionary outcome, but it makes intuitive sense.” said Plotkin, a professor of biology in the School of Arts & Sciences.

How It Works

The Prisoner’s Dilemma works like this: Two “players” commit a crime and how they behave during questioning determines their punishment. When a player “defects,” he or she betrays his or her partner. “Cooperating” means keeping quiet.

This article continues on businessinsider.com


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