Strategic Decision Making Essay

Strategic decision making is very important in the current situation and is actually applied in different spheres. Not surprisingly that recent researches are often dedicated to this problem, especially being applied to prisoner’s dilemma games as one of the major tools of behavioral researches. In this respect, it is very important to trace the impact games played produce on the decision making process and this is exactly what Ivo Vlaev and Nick Chater attempted to research in their article “Game Relativity: How Context Influences Strategic Decision Making” where they thoroughly analyze the existing models of strategic decision making.

First of all, it should be pointed out that the authors of the article are particularly concerned about the effects prisoner’s dilemma games played in the past produce on players’ current strategic decision making. To put it more precisely, they argue that the reliability of a traditional view on the prisoner’s dilemma game experience is under the question since traditionally it is viewed that only the game that is currently playing may define the strategic decision making and the past game experience of the players produces little impact on their decision making in the current situation.

In order to discuss this problem, they initially overview the traditional views on the impact of the game experience and its effects on the currently played games and decision making. And only after that they reveal the essence of their methods and experiments.

At this point, it is necessary to underline that one of the key concepts of their research is the cooperation index scale. In their experiments they used prisoner’s dilemma game (figure 1) in which each player had to move either 1 (for cooperate) or 2 (for defect). In order to achieve higher degree of objectivity and reliability of the experiments the players were given neutral labels. They also developed a particular structure of the game due to which each player would obtained higher reward by playing 2. At the same time, if both players played 2 the outcome for both players was worse than if they both played 1. As a result, the players that tended to reason purely individualistically taking into account only there personal interests could not benefit if their opponents played in the same way too. In stark contrast if they managed to sacrifice their personal interests and ‘cooperate’, i.e. both played 1, the outcome for both players would be better that in the situation when only one player ‘cooperates’. On the other hand, if one player cooperated another would do even better by ‘defecting’ and playing 2. In such a situation, the researchers arrive to the conclusion that from the point of view of rational self-interest cooperation is not the best solution and the variant when both players choose 2 seems to be more rational for self-interests.

On continuing their experiments they found out that cooperative index is very important and its higher level may contribute to better cooperation between players. The researchers even appeal to a ratio that helps to define the cooperation index: CI= C (cooperation) – D (defection)/T (payoffs if one player ‘defects’ and plays 2 while another plays 1) – S (when one player ‘cooperates’ and plays 1, while another plays 2.

Eventually, on a series of experiments, the researchers arrived to the conclusion that the cooperation index may grow when the players has experience in playing cooperatively in prisoner’s dilemma games played before. In such a way, they emphasize that, unlike it is traditionally believed, the ‘cooperativeness’ of the previously played prisoner’s dilemma games may significantly affect the choices and decisions players make in the currently playing game. In such a way previously played games and the present choices and decisions are to a certain extent interdependent. This is why it is necessary to take into consideration the past experience in games relativity and decision making process.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that in their article Vlaev and Chater depict a profound research in which they took into consideration the experience of other specialists and different views on the problem they dealt with. They also conducted their own research on which basis they made their conclusions that actually differed seriously from traditional conceptions. At the same time, the research seems to be quite reliable and understandable with a sufficient but not overwhelming amount of statistical information, figures and graphs that make the conclusions of the authors more persuading and understandable.

Rapoport, A., & Chammah, A. Prisoner’s dilemma: A study in conflict and cooperation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1965.
Laming, D. R. J. “The relativity of ‘absolute’ judgements”. British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, 37, 1984, p.152–183.
Stewart, N., Chater, N., Stott, H. P., & Reimers, S. “Prospect relativity: How choice options influence decision under risk”. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 132, 2003, p.23–46.
Vlaev, Ivo and Nick Chater. “Game Relativity: How Context Influences Strategic Decision Making”, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition, Vol. 32, No. 1, 2006, p.131-49.

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