Does Game Theory Swear?


Vincent White

Game Theory is a fascinating field of study that has its roots in mathematics and economics. It’s the study of decision-making in situations where two or more individuals are involved, each with their own objectives and strategies. Game Theory has been used to study a wide range of topics, from military strategy to political negotiations.

But what about Game Theory and swearing? Does the use of profanity have any impact on game outcomes? In this article, we’ll explore this question and see what insights Game Theory can provide.

What is Game Theory?

Game Theory is a branch of mathematics that studies how people make decisions when they have incomplete information. It’s an interdisciplinary field that draws on economics, psychology, political science, and other disciplines. The basic idea behind Game Theory is that people make decisions based on their expectations of what others will do.

How does Game Theory work?

Game Theory models interactions between individuals as games. These games can be represented using mathematical models such as matrices or decision trees. Players are assumed to be rational actors who choose strategies based on their objectives and beliefs about what other players will do.

Does swearing affect game outcomes?

Research has shown that the use of profanity can have an impact on game outcomes. One study found that players who used more profanity during a game were less likely to cooperate with others, leading to worse overall outcomes for all players involved.

However, it’s important to note that not all games are the same. The impact of swearing may depend on the specific type of game being played and the personalities of the players involved.


Let’s take a look at some examples to illustrate this point:

Example 1: The Prisoner’s Dilemma

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a classic example in Game Theory where two suspects are arrested for a crime but cannot communicate with each other. Each suspect is given the option to either confess or remain silent. The outcomes are as follows:

– If both suspects remain silent, they each receive a light sentence.
– If one suspect confesses and the other remains silent, the one who confesses receives a reduced sentence while the other receives a harsher sentence.
– If both suspects confess, they both receive a harsher sentence.

In this scenario, swearing may not have much of an impact on game outcomes. Each player’s decision is based solely on their own self-interest and not on any cooperation with the other player.

Example 2: The Ultimatum Game

The Ultimatum Game is another classic example in Game Theory where one player (the proposer) is given a sum of money to split with another player (the responder). The proposer can offer any split they choose, but if the responder rejects the offer, neither player receives anything.

In this scenario, swearing may have an impact on game outcomes. The responder’s decision to accept or reject the offer may be influenced by their perception of the proposer’s fairness or trustworthiness. Swearing could potentially signal that the proposer is untrustworthy or unfair, leading to a rejection of their offer.


In conclusion, swearing can have an impact on game outcomes in certain scenarios. However, it’s important to note that not all games are the same and that individual personalities and preferences may play a role in how swearing affects game outcomes. As with any decision-making process, it’s important to consider all factors before making decisions that could potentially impact others.