Consciousness and how it got to be that way

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Punishment Strategies for Games With Indefinite Lengths

There are many findings in psychology which seem puzzling from the standpoint of utility maximization. A favorite one is that humans are often willing to punish a wrong-doer at significant cost, even though the damage is already done. And in a "1-round game", this is indeed stupid. But this instinct evolved in a social animal that historically was in contact with the same individuals of its species for most of its life; punishing a wrong-doer after the fact still makes similar wrong-doing in the future less likely, and serves as a warning for those thinking about it.

It is likely that similar puzzling findings in psychology, which are puzzling when viewed in a one-round game, are actually utility-maximizing when considered in the context of longer time spans.

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