Prisoner’s Dilemma and Divorce

Growing up, I never realized my experiences were basically social psychological phenomena. Once I took Social Psychology, I realized my parents’ divorce was the Prisoner’s Dilemma redesigned. My parents were rarely able to have an amicable conversation leading up to their divorce, and their conversations would usually end up in screaming matches. They hired the most aggressive lawyers in an attempt to make sure the other parent did not gain more from the split. Both wanted a fair divorce but they both wouldn’t cooperate out of fear that the other would act more selfishly. This situation is similar to the Prisoner’s Dilemma it entails two individuals acting in their own self-interest and leads to both parties receiving unfavorable results. If my parents had simply cooperated, they would have avoided years of conflict, stress, and loss of money. Because they did not cooperate, there is even more bitter resentment towards each other as a result because they both came out of the divorce with unfavorable results. If I had known about the Prisoner’s Dilemma when my parents were going through the divorce I could have encouraged them to engage with each other more amicably and helped convince them that it would be better for them in the long run. Learning about the Prisoner’s Dilemma has also helped me in my personal life because if a similar situation ever happens to me whether it’s a divorce, dealing with a stubborn friend, or a business deal, I will be better equipped to deal with the situation in a way that ensures that I act unselfishly without losing in the process. A way to help deal with Prisoner Dilemma situations is by using the tit-for-tat strategy and show a willingness to cooperate with the other person without letting them exploit me when they decide to act selfishly.

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