What Is a Trigger Strategy Game Theory?


Vincent White

A trigger strategy is a concept in game theory that refers to a player’s decision to initiate an action based on the actions of other players in the game. This strategy is common in many different types of games, including both cooperative and non-cooperative games.

In a non-cooperative game, players are motivated solely by their individual interests. Each player is trying to maximize their own payoff, and there is no cooperation or communication between players. In this type of game, a trigger strategy can be effective for gaining an advantage over other players.

For example, consider a game where two players are competing for a prize. Each player has two possible strategies: they can either cooperate with the other player or defect (i.e., choose not to cooperate).

If both players cooperate, they will share the prize equally. If one player cooperates and the other defects, the defector will receive the entire prize while the cooperator gets nothing.

In this scenario, a trigger strategy might involve one player choosing to cooperate initially but switching to defection if the other player defects first. This strategy sends a clear signal to the other player that cooperation is preferred but not guaranteed.

If the other player cooperates as well, both players can benefit from sharing the prize equally. However, if the other player defects, then switching to defection becomes the best choice for maximizing one’s own payoff.

Trigger strategies can also be used in cooperative games where players work together towards a common goal. In these types of games, communication and trust between players are critical for success. A trigger strategy can help establish trust by demonstrating that each player is committed to working towards the common goal.

For example, consider a team-based game where each team member must contribute resources towards completing a project. If one member fails to contribute enough resources or slacks off on their responsibilities, it could jeopardize the entire project.

A trigger strategy could involve setting clear expectations for each team member and establishing consequences if those expectations are not met. This can help motivate each team member to contribute their fair share and ensure the success of the project.

Overall, trigger strategies can be a powerful tool for gaining an advantage in both cooperative and non-cooperative games. By carefully observing the actions of other players and responding strategically, players can increase their chances of success and achieve their desired outcomes.