Game Theory and game theory
|One representation of a game of imperfect information|
|The basics of a tit-for-tat strategy|
In game theory a tit-for-tat strategy involves a response to the other player's original response. As long as the other player sticks to an "honourable" or "beneficial" strategy, you respond in kind. The moment the player responds with a "dishonourable" or "harmful" strategy, again you respond in kind.
Consider the classic Prisoner's Dilemma. The Prisoner's Dilemma is used to demonstrate how rational players in a single-shot game respond to incentives, and thereby achieve outcomes that may not maximise their individual happiness in an unconstrained fashion, but will instead maximise their happiness subject to the constraints of the other person's incentives.
|Simple representation of the Prisoner's Dilemma|
Now let's see what happens when you turn this into a multiperiod game. Suddenly, it might become optimal for one player to always rat out the other player- provided the second player never responds in kind. Or it might be better for both players to cooperate- provided that both players stick to their original strategies. I've written before about the nature of multiperiod games of competition in a somewhat different context, and this is where the basic idea comes from.
Tit-for-tat is one possible strategy to use in a multiperiod game with a very large number of possible future outcomes. As long as one player cooperates, the other does too. The moment the other player fails to cooperate, the first player does too. And this leads us to the concept of trigger strategies, used to optimise outcomes over long multiperiod time horizons.
|Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma|
Game Theory and Dating
And now we come at last to the meat of the idea. If you've ever seen the movie "A Beautiful Mind" (personally I think you'd be better served reading the book), there is a very brilliant scene in which John Nash demonstrates, through a dating analogy, how to maximise individual happiness via the use of what eventually came to be known as his most famous contribution to the entire field of mathematics (among several). That scene illustrates perfectly how a tit-for-tat strategy, of the kind that Stephanie outlines, would work in real life.
One useful way to get to know those probabilities is through tit-for-tat escalation.
Tit-for-Tat and Introverted Game
Stephanie presents the use of tit-for-tat escalation from a woman's perspective:
The concept is really simple. First you establish an attraction signal to someone you find attractive. The most nonthreatening signal is eye contact. My best trick is to scan a room until I meet eyes with a man who is also scanning the room. Making eye contact is the most effective way of expressing interest. It is the most vulnerable signal in the game of attraction. So much information is processed in a short time frame. Based on how long the eye contact is met depends on initial attraction. If attraction is mutual, curiosity of that signal invites more eye contact between both parties. Frequency and duration of eye contact is the quickest way to evaluate mutual attraction.
Now with tit-for-tat, once I make eye contact with a man more than once, I wait to gauge his interest. He will either initiate more eye contact or not at all. This is pretty much a pass/fail tactic. If he returns more eye contact, I will return more eye contact. If he advances the eye contact, I will reciprocate further based on his advance. If he changes body positioning and distances himself it sends a clear signal of disinterest.I present the same set of arguments, from a male introvert's perspective, to establish and gauge mutual interest via an almost algorithmic pattern:
- Start with basic eye contact (easy enough for most introverts- the "shy introvert" trope is more of a myth than anything else). If eye contact is weak, break off and move on.
- If eye contact is established and strong, move to physical proximity. If she moves slightly away from you, she's not interested. Smile and move on.
- If she stays put or leans in slightly, there is potential interest. Maintain eye contact and begin conversation (a weak point for a LOT of introverts and one I'll attempt to address in future posts). If the conversational openings founder or fail, smile and move on.
- If the conversation goes well, begin verbal escalation. This is the stage at which you'll begin to get a clear idea of what the probabilities are for friendship (yikes), more conversation, dating, and potentially sex will be. If the conversation begins to fail or fade, or you see clearly that the probability of getting what you really want is going to zero, smile and move on.
- If the conversation goes well, begin physical escalation (i.e. touching). This is also a major weak point for a lot of deep introverts- guys like me absolutely hate being touched by strangers, and as a result we don't do much touching ourselves. If she pulls back or brushes you off, walk away.
- If the touching goes well, continue escalating until you reach the point where you do in fact get what you want- or you get a signal from her that is negative and therefore you reciprocate.
- If at any point you see a strongly negative signal in this set of interactions, maintain frame and move on. Your options are limited only by your willingness to explore them.