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How Lies Induced Cooperation in "Golden Balls:" A Game-Theoretic Analysis

Brams, Steven J. and Mor, Ben D. (2019): How Lies Induced Cooperation in "Golden Balls:" A Game-Theoretic Analysis.

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Abstract

We analyze a particular episode of a popular British TV game show, “Golden Balls,” in which one of the two contestants lied about what he intended to do, which had the salutary effect of inducing both contestants to cooperate in what is normally a Prisoners' Dilemma (PD), wherein one or both contestants usually defected. This “solution” to PD assumes that the liar desired to be honorable in fulfilling his pledge to split the jackpot if he won but, surprisingly, he achieved this end without having to do so, astonishing the audience and receiving its acclaim. We note that this action has a biblical precedent in King Solomon’s decision to cut a baby in two.

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