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KENNIS WISER
Who Can You Trust

Who Can You Trust

Trust can be an important part of game theory, in group situations it is often the only way we can win, but if we get it wrong we can lose big. So, when should you trust and are you trust-worthy?

Who Can You Trust?

Most of game theory doesn’t rely on trust, it relies on you predicting what another person will do and calculating how you can win based on that. But there are some games in life that don’t work that way and sometimes trust is the only way to win. Do these games also use the art of prediction? Yes, because you still need to work out who you can trust and who you can’t.

When we work together we win

Sometimes working together is the best way to win, but trusting your co game player can be difficult for a lot people. And that’s where many of us fall down and lose at the game. If we look at hunting in the wild, even animals know that the way to land the biggest kill and eat well tonight is to work together. But if you relate this to our lives and games we play, we often over think things and predict that if we do this we can’t trust other people to give us a fair share of the meat when we land the kill. Better to go out by ourselves and hunt something smaller, right? That way we get to keep it all to ourselves. Well, maybe, but while we’re out there hunting a rabbit, the rest of the group have worked together and taken down a deer and they’ll be eating better than us tonight. In this case we failed to trust the group to do the right thing and be fair. The problem is, in some cases we would be right about this, it all comes down to who is playing.

The cost of not trusting

As with every game, when we bring money into it, it gets interesting. Let’s say there are two players and it’s a game of trust. The rules state you must give the other player an amount of money and what ever you give will be quadrupled, meaning the other player gets four times what you gave them. At this point they have the option to keep it all, give you back what you offered them, or split the money with you. How much will you give them and what will they decide to do? If you trust this person you’ll give them as big an amount as you can afford and they will pay you back and maybe split the whole amount with you. But if you don’t trust them you’ll give them as small an amount as possible and probably lose the whole lot. What does this tell us? Trust is an unpredictable and slippery beast, but if we get it right we can win big.

The best way to win at this game is to all trust each other and we all come out with more, but humans rarely work that way and you’ll always find there’s someone who sees the chance to gain over everyone else. The question is, are you that person?  Can you trust others and are you someone who others can trust?