The Prisoner's Dilemma Makes a Reality TV Appearance
Once in a while, something happens in the real world that brings a flurry of e-mail to the Freakonomics office. If, for instance, the Prisoner’s Dilemma, or at least a version thereof, makes an appearance on a network TV show.
The recent season finale of ABC’s reality show The Bachelor Pad featured an interesting twist. When it came time to award the show’s final $250,000 prize, the two finalists, Dave and Natalie, “were forced to go into separate rooms and decide whether they wanted to ‘keep’ or ‘share’ the final prize. If they both picked ‘share’, the money would be split evenly between them ($125,000 each). If only one picked ‘share’ and the other ‘keep,’ the keeper gets the entire prize ($250,000) and the other, we’ll call them the weeper, gets nothing. If they both pick ‘keep,’ then neither gets the cash and it is split among the other losing contestants (about $14,000 each).”
Wondering what happened? Take a look:
Harrison Brookie points to a few important differences between the standard prisoner’s dilemma and the reality TV version: “[T]he rules were explained while both contestants were sitting next to each other. Immediately they both made eye contact, as if to reassure each other of their relationship … Also, the original game takes place in a private interrogation room.”
(HT: Jamie Nopper, Levi Funk, and a few others – thanks!)