A blog about economics, politics and the random interests of forty-something professors
April 8, 2009 in Uncategorized | Tags: game theory, teaching
Smart classroom + YouTube + Golden Balls.
Golden balls indeed.
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April 8, 2009 at 3:15 pm
Interesting video but too bad the comments are misogynistic crap. I guess a polite comment thread is a commons.
April 8, 2009 at 5:20 pm
Yes, I am sorry for that.
April 8, 2009 at 8:17 pm
Not your fault :)
April 8, 2009 at 9:12 pm
According to my preferences, I would only want to show steal when the other person shows split. I would rather end up looking like an idealistic sap than someone who can’t cooperate on national TV. But I would care more about the money when there is actually something to gain.
April 8, 2009 at 9:14 pm
Interesting, I would love to see the overall statistics of this game.
There may be a neat way to avoid the dilemma though.
It seems “steal” is only weakly dominant – at least in monetary payoffs (if you play “steal” the other gets zero anyway) – and the full prisoner dilemma
arises only because presumably most people would prefer the opponent to get no money if you “steal” their money. So here is a potential (somewhat risky) solution, when talking to the opponent, give him/her half the total amount in cash (as a present) and insist that you will play “steal”.
If the opponent believes you, (s)he should be indifferent what to play (in monetary terms) and hopefully be willing to let you go with your share of the money by playing split.
The risk is that the opponent figures you must be a game theorist and loves to prove you wrong :-)
February 9, 2010 at 9:05 am
I’m a 3rd year economics student doing my dissertation on this very topic, and I wondered if you ever did manage to find some statistics on the show? I’ve tried writing to and emailing ITV with little success; any ideas?
April 9, 2009 at 12:39 pm
Towards the end of the video, Sarah (the winner) said she was not happy when her opponent showed SPLIT. How ironic! It’s the best outcome she could ever hope for! If she is truly unhappy, she should have thought of that before deciding on STEAL. So either (i) she is not rational, (ii) her preference changes, or (iii) she is simply lying under public pressure.
It’d also be interesting to see what kind of “small talk” they have before deciding, and which “small talk” is optimal (which the previous poster also discusses somewhat).
April 9, 2009 at 7:51 pm
“If the opponent believes you, (s)he should be indifferent what to play (in monetary terms) and hopefully be willing to let you go with your share of the money by playing split.”
Yes in monetary terms. But of course humans have feelings, and a basic sense of fairness which complicates things. Most people would attach some value to being able to “punish” someone who in their view is acting unfairly. So picking steal to punish the counter party, even if they know that their net profit is going to be $0 either way would seem to be the optimal strategy.
Perhaps a better strategy would be to tell your opponent that you are going to pick steal no matter what, and then offer to split the money after the show. Pointing out that your offer constitutes a legally binding oral contract, which has been taped, and viewed by hundreds of thousands of witnesses.
That way your opponent can opt to pick split, and half the money with you. Or defect in which case you both get nothing.
April 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm
Agreed, that your strategy is safer if you can make your promise legally binding. Otherwise, it may still work, but will only work if your opponent trusts your promise somewhat (and is not too angered by your anouncement). You write
“Yes in monetary terms. But of course humans have feelings, and a basic sense of fairness which complicates things. Most people would attach some value to being able to “punish” someone who in their view is acting unfairly. So picking steal to punish the counter party, even if they know that their net profit is going to be $0 either way would seem to be the optimal strategy. ”
That was the point behind giving half the money in advance. Now you are not “stealing”, but only receiving your fair share, which hopefully induces a willingness to let you go with your fair share (at no monetary costs). The risk seems rather that you may face an economist who considers your cash present to be sunk costs, irrelevant for his choice, and so plays the (in monetary terms) still weakly dominant strategy “steal”.
April 10, 2009 at 1:42 am
Pourquoi tout le monde devrait étudier la théorie des jeux « Rationalité Limitée
[...] Pourquoi tout le monde devrait étudier la théorie des jeux Si vous voulez expliquer simplement à des étudiants pourquoi les jeux coopératifs ont été quasiment totalement abandonné au profit des jeux non-coopératifs, montrez leur cette vidéo… (via Cheap Talk) [...]
April 10, 2009 at 2:37 pm
Golden balls | eco.nomie.nl
[...] Het kán echter wel. Kijk hieronder (of hier op Youtube) naar een spelshow op hetzelfde principe waarbij, en dat is opmerkelijk, de twee “gevangenen” gewoon met elkaar mogen praten. Dat blijkt de dramatiek ernstig te vermogen. Houdt u vast: het fragment is werkelijk schitterend. [Gezien op Cheap Talk.] [...]
April 15, 2009 at 5:38 pm
The Prisoner’s Dilemma « 36 Chambers - The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!
[...] Prisoner’s Dilemma Filed under: Economics — Kevin Feasel @ 6:38 pm Via Cheap Talk: the Prisoner’s dilemma as a game [...]
April 15, 2009 at 7:13 pm
“Perhaps a better strategy would be to tell your opponent that you are going to pick steal no matter what, and then offer to split the money after the show”
As long as this is just a strategy to get the money, then I’m cool with it. If you seriously believe that the other person should willingly take that offer… well, then I hope I never get an accountant like you :P
In real life, the person holding the money has the power. You can wave your hands around with the ‘legally binding’ mumbo jumbo, but don’t forget who can now afford the better lawyer…
“Sarah (the winner) said she was not happy when her opponent showed SPLIT. How ironic!”
Um, of course she’d be unhappy. It’s very unlikely that she’d be some kind of rational sociopath. I wouldn’t be surprised if she felt sick about it later; she probably never considered herself to be capable of doing something like that. She’ll get over it.
Don’t forget that steal can be seen to be as much a defensive gesture as an offensive one.
April 17, 2009 at 6:23 am
Player’s Dilemma ? « Purna’s Weblog
[...] us look at this video (since the post is with regard to this game. Came across this in this blog.). This is equivalent to a prisoner’s dilemma problem where both have equal [...]
June 17, 2009 at 9:13 pm
My Intermediate Micro Course: Incentives and Game Theory « Cheap Talk
[...] of these concepts through a hilarious video: The Golden Balls Split or Steal Game (which I have blogged here before.) I play the beginning video to setup the situation, then pause it and show how the game [...]
April 5, 2010 at 1:25 pm
A short paper using this TV show as a natural experiment of the Prisoner’s Dilemma can be accessed at:
Economic Incentives – The Goldenballs Dilemma
The conclusion: Gender, age, occupation and hair colour! matter.
April 15, 2010 at 11:34 am
Proliferating Balls « Cheap Talk
[...] 2010 in Uncategorized | Tags: education, game theory, the web, TV | by jeff About a year ago I posted a link to a YouTube video of the Golden Balls “Split or Steal” game, hailing it as a [...]
September 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm
I was shown this dilemma in a Philosophy class today. I found it quite shocking and sickening, in fact, Sarah’s betrayal of her honest counterpart. It seems that this game goes against those who have more of a conscience. That strategy, however, (stealing intentionally to split it after the game) would work if the game allowed it – probably better than the split agreements they usually agree on but never seem to work.
April 22, 2012 at 11:42 pm
Golden Balls Solved? « Cheap Talk
[...] of all I would like to point out that this solution was suggested here in the comments the first time I (or anybody else I believe) linked to Golden Balls in April 2009. Florian Herold and Mike Hunter wrote: “Perhaps a better strategy would [...]
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