Golden Balls Game Theory

The UK game show titled Golden Balls is a perfect real world example of the prisoners dilemma.  During the final round of the game each player must choose either to split the money with the opposing player or steal the money for themselves.  If each player chooses to steal, both individuals go home with nothing.  If one individual chooses split and the other chooses steal, the person that picked steal takes 100% of the money for himself/herself.  If both players choose split, the amount of money is split 50, 50.  The payoff matrix in this game has three Nash Equilibrium points that are present where at least one person choose to steal.  This matrix makes the split option very questionable for players because they have nothing to gain as long as the other player is planning on stealing.

Overall really interesting game show.  Here is a clip that illustrates my explanation a little better.


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3 Responses to Golden Balls Game Theory

  1. willicod says:

    It is interesting that they modeled a game show after the classic prisoners dilemma. I haven’t seen the show so I am curious to what happens most of the time? Do the people split the money, go home with nothing, or one person take it all most of the time?

  2. mcneiljo says:

    This is such a great example of the prisoners dilemma. It would be interesting to see the statistics of the result of this game. The link below is a blog about the show where the author stated that the ratio of people choosing to split or to steal is about 50/50. However, it also states that people were not quite selected at random like the show claims they were. For instance, women are more likely to split so they couldn’t have all women on the show; that would be boring.

  3. hondoh says:

    I think it’s interesting that the contestants are allowed to discuss their options before choosing. I believe that the classical example of the prisoner’s dilemma prohibits the two from communicating. The video clip that you gave was a good example of how much this aspect can effect the outcomes.

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