Reexamining the prisoner’s dilemma
Plenty of people refer to the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic mental test of a group’s ability to cooperate - but it hasn’t been until recently that the test was conducted among actual prisoners.

First, female prisoners and students played simultaneously, choosing letters and earning points that were translated into Euros afterward. Their choices then were randomly matched with others and analyzed.
If each player chose A, both would earn seven points. But by unilateral betrayal (BA and AB), either player could earn nine and leave the other with one. Mutual betrayal (BB), however, would net three points apiece.

As it turns out, the prisoners were more cooperative than everyday citizens - 55% to 37%, and 
Read more on why scientists think the results were so different over at Science Now. 
Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Reexamining the prisoner’s dilemma

Plenty of people refer to the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic mental test of a group’s ability to cooperate - but it hasn’t been until recently that the test was conducted among actual prisoners.

First, female prisoners and students played simultaneously, choosing letters and earning points that were translated into Euros afterward. Their choices then were randomly matched with others and analyzed.

If each player chose A, both would earn seven points. But by unilateral betrayal (BA and AB), either player could earn nine and leave the other with one. Mutual betrayal (BB), however, would net three points apiece.

As it turns out, the prisoners were more cooperative than everyday citizens - 55% to 37%, and 

Read more on why scientists think the results were so different over at Science Now

Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

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