What Is Chicken Model of Game Theory?


Martha Robinson

Game theory is a fascinating subject that helps us understand how people make decisions in various situations. One of the most popular models in game theory is called the Chicken Model. In this article, we will explore what the Chicken Model is and how it works.

What Is Game Theory?

Game theory is a branch of mathematics that deals with decision-making in situations where two or more individuals have conflicting interests. It provides a framework for analyzing how people make decisions and predicting their behavior in different scenarios.

The Chicken Model

The Chicken Model, also known as the Hawk-Dove game, is a classic example in game theory that explores conflict resolution strategies between two individuals. It is often used to study situations where both parties have something to gain or lose by either cooperating or competing with each other.

The Basic Setup

In the Chicken Model, two players are driving towards each other on a narrow road and must decide whether to swerve or keep going straight. If both players swerve, they avoid a collision, but if one player swerves and the other does not, the player who keeps going straight wins. However, if both players keep going straight, they crash into each other and both lose.

The Payoff Matrix

To better understand the outcomes of this scenario, we can create a payoff matrix that shows what happens to each player based on their choices.

  • If both players swerve: Both players receive a payoff of 0.
  • If one player swerves: The player who swerved receives a payoff of -1 (for being seen as weak), and the other player receives a payoff of 1 (for being seen as strong).
  • If both players keep going straight: Both players receive a payoff of -10 (for getting into a fatal accident).

The Nash Equilibrium

The Nash Equilibrium is a concept in game theory that refers to a situation where no player can improve their payoff by changing their strategy, assuming the other player’s strategy remains unchanged. In the Chicken Model, there are two Nash equilibria:

  • Both players swerve: This is the safest option for both players and results in a payoff of 0 each.
  • Both players keep going straight: This is the riskiest option for both players but results in a payoff of -10 each.

Real-Life Applications

The Chicken Model has several real-life applications, such as:

  • Nuclear Deterrence: The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union was often seen as a game of chicken. Both nations had nuclear weapons and were threatening to use them if necessary.

    However, neither side wanted to be seen as weak or give up their advantage.

  • Bargaining: In negotiations, both parties may have something to gain or lose depending on how they approach the situation. The Chicken Model can be used to analyze different bargaining strategies and predict outcomes.
  • Sports: The Chicken Model can also be applied to sports where athletes may have to make decisions that affect not only their own performance but also that of their opponents. For example, in basketball, players may have to decide whether to take a risky shot or pass the ball to a teammate.

In Conclusion

The Chicken Model is an important concept in game theory that helps us understand how individuals make decisions when faced with conflict. By analyzing the different outcomes of the game, we can predict how people will behave in various scenarios and apply this knowledge to real-life situations.