Can You Use Game Theory in Real Life?


Martha Robinson

Game theory is a field of study that deals with the analysis of strategic decision-making. It has been widely used in various fields, including economics, political science, psychology, and biology.

The question that comes to mind is whether game theory can be used in real-life situations. In this article, we will explore the practical applications of game theory and how it can be used to make better decisions.

What is Game Theory?

Game theory is the study of decision-making in situations where two or more individuals or groups are involved. The goal is to analyze the behavior of each participant and predict their actions based on their incentives and strategies. The basic components of a game are players, actions, payoffs, and information.

Types of Games

There are two types of games in game theory: cooperative games and non-cooperative games. In cooperative games, players work together to achieve a common goal and share the rewards equally. In non-cooperative games, players act independently and have conflicting interests.

Applications of Game Theory

Game theory has several practical applications in real-life situations. Some examples include:

  • Economics: Game theory is widely used in economics to analyze market behavior, pricing strategies, bargaining tactics, and competition.
  • Biology: Game theory has been applied to understand animal behavior, evolution, and ecology.
  • Politics: Game theory can be used to analyze voting behavior, coalition formation, international relations, and conflict resolution.
  • Social Sciences: Game theory has been applied to study human behavior in social situations such as negotiations, auctions, and auctions.

Real-Life Examples

Let’s look at some real-life examples where game theory has been applied:

  • Prisoner’s Dilemma: Two suspects are arrested for a crime and are held in separate cells. The police offer each suspect a deal – if one confesses and the other doesn’t, the one who confesses will go free, and the other will get a longer sentence. If both confess, they will both get a shorter sentence, but not as short as if neither confesses. This situation can be modeled using game theory to understand the behavior of each suspect.
  • Airline Pricing: Airlines use game theory to set prices for their flights.

    They analyze the behavior of their competitors and adjust their prices accordingly to maximize their profits.

  • Climate Change: Game theory can be used to analyze the behavior of countries in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Each country has an incentive to reduce emissions, but there is also a cost associated with doing so. By modeling this situation using game theory, policymakers can design policies that incentivize countries to reduce emissions without imposing too much cost on them.


In conclusion, game theory is not just a theoretical concept but has several practical applications in real-life situations. It can be used to analyze human behavior in various fields and help individuals and organizations make better decisions. By understanding the incentives and strategies of each participant, we can predict their actions and design strategies that benefit everyone involved.