Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Love is such a game to play

What religions tell us is that love, marriage and relationships are written in heaven. However economics may argue in a different way. When God leaves rooms for man to play his own game, fates can possibly be written by Greek letters.

At one night my friend told me about his gloomy story. He just broke up with his girlfriend. After has been together for almost 5 years, his-ex loves someone whom she just met for the last three months. It is pretty unreasonable but all that love is. I told him, there are many reasons which may end your relationship. First, your-ex perceives that this guy is far better than you (well..this is one of the hard facts). Second, since both of you live a part, it seems that there is no incentive to keep the relationship yet strong incentive to deviate, namely, cheats. Lower the trust, stronger the incentive for cheating. This is such a game which reminds me to prisoner’s dilemma.

This semester, I take a course called “Strategic decision making”. It is all about game-theory and a classic example of the theory is prisoner’s dilemma. The story is about two suspects that are separated and interrogated in different cells. Police found strong evidence to condemn each of them with minor crime. But there is no enough evidence to convict them for a major crime unless one of them whistles against the other. If both of them do not confess about their crimes, both will be charged of the minor offense. If one and only one of them confess, he will be released and used as witness against the other, who will spend five years in jail. If they both confess, each will spend 3 years in jail. Interestingly, this game results them to confess against each other and spend 3 years in jail.

Why do they not cooperate by both do not confess? As a matter of fact, the answer relies on basic human instinct; each suspect thinks that the other will confess against him.

Ignoring the possibility that this guy is better than him (I guess my friend is at least as good as this guy), we may find similarity between prisoner’s dilemma and his story. In his case, his-ex was likely to think that he would cheat, so she decided to cheat (or broke the relationship). Surely it’s really hard to find that your partner cheat while you still keep the relationship. Unfortunately, he did not cheat although he knew that it was better for him (but not for his relationship) also to cheat. Perhaps, this situation does not truly model prisoner’s dilemma as my friend does not deviate by cheating. Nevertheless it explains why long-distance relationship is hardly stable. Worse, a fact which barely be accepted is that the equilibrium of long-distance relationship usually exists when both of them cheat. That is what the theory tells us.

At that night, I recalled a song of Beatles, Yesterday-"Yesterday,..love was such an easy game to play”. It is still true. Love is finally such a game to play.


Anonymous said...

Anyway, is this your friend' story or yours ? :-) .


a.p. said...

ada bbrp alasan kenapa equilibrium (cheat, cheat) tidak selalu jadi outcome:

1. focal point (read Schelling)

2. institution. intinya, institution adds the cost for deviating, so the net gain for deviating gets smaller.

institution can be formal or informal. repeated interactions, bapak atau kakak yang 'galak,' sistem pariban orang Batak, adalah contoh2 informal institutions yang bisa membuat cost of cheating jadi tinggi.

3. uncertainty/incomplete information (about the future). what would you get after cheating?

Puspini said...

The Prisonner's Dilemma is a nice game to play...but fear of/anticipating 'cheating' is I'm afraid only a small part of potential candidate explanations as to why your 'friend's ex decided to break it off.
Physical proximity matters for matters of the heart...Emotions need to be continually nurtured and this is difficult with geographic distance...

Anonymous said...

Prisoner dilemma, kan 1. static 2. perfect information.3. Non-cooperative.

Kalo itu kemudian di violated, analysisnya jadi beda. Kalo repeated games, ya pake folks theorm. Kalo incompete, pake bayesian, dan cooperatives, ya pake cooperatives game.

Masing-masing itu bisa membawa ke equilibrium yang beda-beda..(cmiiw)
Sekarang pertanyaannya, apakah pacaran (cheating etc), memenuhi asumi static prisoners dilema ? kayaknya nggak deh..Itu kan repeated game dan lebih ke arah markov game.

cmiiw :-)


The Dreamer said...

Do.. Loe sekarang maennya game theory nih :-D

berly said...

yup, love relationship is difinitely a dynamic game (not one-shot/static) with elements of uncertainly & incomplete information.

Signaling is a better analytical tool for this problem. Strength and durability of the relationship is strongly affected on how each can repeatedly transmit (credible and non-noisy signal) of desire for a join/common future.

It could range from simple signal like phone calls & sms to surprise gift. Could work even better if one willing to employ costly commitment device (from joint account/house purchase to engagement)

Aside from theoritical view, I am also speaking as senior LDR practitioner :-D

Anonymous said...

sera is correct...
i'd like to add though that in the prisoner's dilemma the players make their moves simultaneously, which by definition is that each player makes their 'moves' without knowing the other's 'moves'... though this does NOT mean they make their 'moves' at the same time...
in a relationship thats gone for 5 years presumably this simultaneity assumption is violated, thus there will be no game theory at hand...
in the stage of 'pdkt' though, its ALL game theory...

from resta's comment; is this your story?? or your friend's??... it does though sound quite like mine, but different ending off course hauahhahahaha...


Pasha said...

To Yudis,
I'm not a game theory expert but if you add distance into the equation wouldn't that justify the simultaneity assumption? That is the same as isolating the prisoners into separate interrogation rooms. In this case minimizing communication, i.e. you can't chat or call every time you want to because there's costs and time contraints.

And Dis, we already know that part of your story ends, so what's the next part of the story?:D

Anonymous said...

He..he...just repeating Resta's question. I think I've also heard this story before from someone I know, is it you???he..he..
Anyway, i think in Indonesia's legal system using that kind of confession which is know as "saksi mahkota" is prohibited.

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