Co-operation and trust

The stag hunt game is one of game theory’s classic games.

In the game there are two cavemen going hunting for food, each one has two options:

1 –  go to where they know a stag has been spotted and work together to catch the stag. One hunter on his own can’t catch a stag, they need to co-operate.

2 – go in the other direction to where there are rabbits and catch rabbits, which they can do without the other hunter.

They meet the night before to discuss their strategy but then go back home to their separate villages. The next morning they cannot talk to each other before they set off to hunt so they have to decide if they trust the other hunter to stick to their agreed strategy.

The best outcome is to go for the stag and find out that the other hunter has as well. You will get half a stag a be able to feed you family for a week.

The next best is to go for rabbits. At least you will get something.

The worst outcome is to go for the stag but then find out that the other hunter has gone for the rabbits. You will go hungry.

Going for rabbits is the low risk option, going for the stag is higher risk but gives a higher reward.

This game is interesting because it represents situations where higher rewards are available if you co-operate but if you don’t trust the other person then a safe option is available.

Today’s takeaway: If you are co-operating with others then be sure you trust them.

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