Thursday, September 25, 2014

REPOST: Dating Game

Friday, November 15, 2013

Dating Game

QUESTION: A man and a woman are trying to decide where to go on a date.  The woman prefers ballet, but the man prefers going to a football game.  There is some gain to going together, but each would rather go to their preferred activity alone, than together to their less preferred activity.  Diagram this game, and show how best to play.


                                              Football             Ballet
                              Football   (1,4)                  (0,0)
                                  Ballet   (2,2)                  (4,1)

The man does better by going to the football game, regardless what the woman does, and the woman does better by going to the ballet, regardless what the man does.  These are called "dominant strategies."  The equilibrium of the game is for each to go to their preferred activity.

Notice, however, that the two players could make themselves better off by cooperating.  Self interest is taking them to a place (2,2) with a lower group payoff than the cells on the main diagonal. 

There are two ways to change the game to increase group payouts.

1. Alternate.  If the couples take turns, their group payout goes up.

2. Have the player that receives the higher payoff, compensate the other player for going to their less preferred activity.

In this case, the man could give 1.5 units to the woman if they go to the football game, which would change the payoff in the upper left to (2.5, 2.5).  This would change the equilibrium of the game.

Alternatively, the woman could give 1.5 units to the man if they go to the ballet.  This is the premise of an off-color South Park episode.


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  2. From a purely economic view, the payouts for each individual are highest if they “take turns attending a different event together each week” (Froeb, et al, 2014, pg.181) as you pointed out in your book, Managerial Economics. This would give them a higher payoff over time than the Nash Equilibrium. The Nash Equilibrium for a one time date would be for Sally to go to Ballet and Joe to go to Wrestling. This illustrates the benefit of repeating the game to maximize benefits for both parties.

    In order for this to work, there would have to be a commitment from both parties to alternate activities. If one party felt that the other party may not follow through, then the plan won’t work. That would entail possibly buying tickets in advance so that the plans are locked into place.

    From a relationship point of view, maybe they need to find a hobby they BOTH enjoy so that they don’t have to take turns suffering through events that they are not interested in!


    Froeb, L.M., McCann, B.T., Shor, M., Ward, M.R. (2014) Managerial Economics: A problem solving approach. Third Edition. South-Western Cengage Learning: Mason.

  3. This is a really interesting application of strategic game theory. Considering the forever increasing rate of divorce in the United States, I’m assuming that most couples end up doing their own preferred activity. This, however, brings up an interesting point. The diagram used to illustrate the Prisoner’s Dilemma is only useful if you can accurately quantify the outcome of each square. Business activities can usually be measured in dollars and cents, but how do you quantify utility? If the man in your scenario decides to go to the football game instead of the ballet, his utility may be higher throughout the duration of the game. But, I’m assuming that his happiness will disappear when he has to listen to his wife bring that up during every fight they have. So, this decision making method is really only useful for a specified duration in time, and if there is a concrete and consistent measurement being used.

  4. Eve,
    Great post and all rules are followed according to the
    text book.
    I really agree with you that this was very interesting. I never thought that we might be able to predict emotions, since dating is
    completely based on emotions when given the opportunity to choose our own dates.
    Certain factors such as moods, misunderstandings and miscommunications don't seem to be accounted for,
    in the game of passion, no rules its a bit different and well men and be rather stub-bin
    1. Dating Game: Strategic Games
    The dating game is similar to that of oligopolies in that there
    are only a couple players in this game, hopefully.
    If the wrong move is made early on in the relationship it will result
    in a doomed relationship, in my opinion.
    We often marry whom we date, and its often the wrong person, because people got married young. Relationships are better always sequential move “ in which all players take turns, and each player observes what his or her rival did before having to move.” ( Froeb, 182). This type of game also allows a player to commitment to future dates of non-interesting events. However as the relationship continues, the stronger partner will not continue to indulge in actives just to please their partner.
    When playing the dating game, and moving simultaneous, more than likely you will end up moving in different direction.

    The textbook stated general rules, can also be applied to the dating game.
    • “ Be nice: no first strikes.
    • Be easily provoked: responded immediately to player
    • Be forgiving, don’t try to punish player
    • Don’t be envious, focus on your own slice
    • Be clear; make sure your wants are understood.