What Are the Models of Game Theory?


Martha Robinson

Game theory is a mathematical approach to understanding decision-making in competitive situations. It provides a framework for analyzing the behavior of individuals or groups when they interact with each other, and the outcomes that result from those interactions. There are several models of game theory that have been developed over the years, each with its own set of assumptions and applications.

1. The Prisoner’s Dilemma Model

The prisoner’s dilemma is one of the most well-known models in game theory. It involves two individuals who are arrested for a crime and are being held separately. Each prisoner has to decide whether to cooperate with the authorities or remain silent.

If both prisoners cooperate, they will receive a reduced sentence. If one prisoner cooperates and the other remains silent, the cooperating prisoner will receive an even greater reduction in their sentence while the other will receive a harsher punishment. If both prisoners remain silent, they will both receive moderate sentences.

This model highlights how cooperation can be difficult to achieve when there is no trust between parties involved.

2. The Battle of the Sexes Model

The battle of the sexes model involves two individuals who want to spend time together but cannot agree on what activity to do. Each individual has their preferred activity, but they also enjoy spending time with their partner regardless of what activity they choose.

This model shows how coordination can be difficult when there are conflicting preferences between parties involved.

3. The Chicken Model

The chicken model involves two individuals driving towards each other on a narrow road. Each driver must decide whether to swerve out of the way or continue driving straight ahead.

If both drivers swerve, there is no collision and both parties avoid harm. If neither driver swerves, there is a head-on collision resulting in severe damage or injury for both drivers.

This model demonstrates how sometimes taking risks can lead to negative outcomes for all parties involved.

4. The Ultimatum Game Model

The ultimatum game model involves two individuals who are given a sum of money to divide between them. The first individual proposes a split, and the second individual can either accept or reject it.

If the second individual accepts the proposal, they both receive their respective shares. If the second individual rejects the proposal, neither party receives any money.

This model highlights how fairness and equity can play a role in decision-making and negotiations.

5. The Auction Model

The auction model involves multiple individuals bidding on an item for sale. Each bidder has their own valuation of the item, but they also have limited resources to spend on it.

This model shows how competition can lead to efficient allocation of resources in certain situations.


Game theory provides us with a powerful tool for analyzing decision-making in competitive situations. By understanding the assumptions and applications of different models, we can gain insights into how individuals or groups may behave when faced with strategic interactions. Whether it’s negotiating a business deal or resolving a conflict between nations, game theory can help us make better decisions by anticipating the actions of others and adjusting our strategies accordingly.