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How irrational is that?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


A friend of mine linked me to this article entitled A simple game that makes you think, “Wow, people can be really petty”

I think this is so true for roleplaying games.

I make a promises to you now that if we ever play this game I will always pick A.


I would also pick A, just as most other people. I can't understand what this has to do with game theory, it's like the prisoners dilemma, but without a dilemma.

However that example in Michael Shermers blog is too blue eyed as one could easily assume that the average of salary in the example, is the average troughout. So even if I get double, if everyone else get 4 times that, I can buy a lot less because of price inflation. In that case I would look for my salary increase in comparison to other peoples salary.

Also the last example is no dilemma at all, as it's a zero sum all the way.
For a dilemma to arise, you could have -2/+3, then it would profit the community if one picked A and the other B. This way, both picking B is completly okay.


I actually don't think it's irrational at all. It makes a lot of sense for two reasons.

1) We assume that to "win" the game you need to end the game with the most money.

That pretty much says it all. It also explains the results. If every player always picks A then you may get the the most money numerically, but never the most money relationally so you can never win. The only way to actually win is to get the most money both ways meaning at some point you must choose B.

2) When the other player is considered your opponent, you lose when they have more money than you.

Picking A does always net you more money numerically, but choosing B means your will never lose money relationally. In a more visceral sense, if you pick A and your opponent picks B then you lose. If you both pick B you can't lose. So, picking B is the obvious choice if you want to win.

I know I am repeating some points from the article, but competition is a strong part of our nature, and resolving situations so that we succeed over others is as important as succeeding overall.

In summary, this isn't irrational, it's insightful.

Scarab Sages Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Ahem...
You assumed, that you would (or could) win the game if you get more money than the other player. That is not part of the rules of the game, but it is part of the irrational thought that you win 'more' or play better if you just get more money than the other player even if that means you get less money than you would have if you allowed the other player to stay on par.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

When it comes to money, many people are irrational. If you're not from the US then you may not know about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Several thousand people got together and took over a park in downtown New York to protest the fact that a small percentage of people make more money than everyone else. To these people, it doesn't matter if everyone has enough to meet their needs, it matters that some people have more.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Simon Legrande wrote:

When it comes to money, many people are irrational.

...

To these people, it doesn't matter if everyone has enough to meet their needs, it matters that some people have more.

Yes, because everyone has enough to meet their needs... or were you trying to prove that 'many people are irrational' statement by way of example?


[delete]Most people pick "B" because they are assuming the other person will pick "B" and they will therefore gain the maximum amount of money.

Everyone says "Oh, of course I would pick A". But most people in the actual experiment don't.[/delete]

Ignore that, I misread the experiment.

It is hard to fathom why people wold pick "B". I suppose the logical conclusion is that they do so to end up with more money than the other person, but that makes no sense to me. Why would I settle for less than I could otherwise make just to make someone else get less.

If this is accurate, it's a rather troubling revelation about human nature.

Grand Lodge

Odd...I've taken a psychology class that presented a study on an identical experiment (except the amount of money changes, but they still stay comparatively the same) that demonstrated that in a one-shot game between two people, MOST people choose option A, the cooperative option. I'd like to know where the source of this experiment was and the details so i could compare them with my own sources and see for credibility...


CBDunkerson wrote:
Simon Legrande wrote:

When it comes to money, many people are irrational.

...

To these people, it doesn't matter if everyone has enough to meet their needs, it matters that some people have more.

Yes, because everyone has enough to meet their needs... or were you trying to prove that 'many people are irrational' statement by way of example?

I never said that everyone has enough. My point was that, even if everyone did have enough there would still be people that would complain that one group has more. And with that, I'm not going to go on any political rants on a RPG board.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

"A" is completely the logical choice. It makes sense, and is what I'd choose every time in the experiment as given.

Strangely, though, when presented with the options of making 50k or making 100k, my impulse was to go with the 50k*. Even more strangely, it was only immediately thereafter that I realized that everyone else' salary changed from 25k to 250k.

After that, I started trying to rethink my impulse. But here's the thing: I'm not sure what I would choose.

On an individual, immediate level with no other repercussions than BAM! two people (one of which is me) gets, like, four dollars (or even I get one and the other three), I'm totally fine with that.

On a much broader, more long-term level, I start thinking of all the repercussions and questions. I mean, who are these "other people"? I don't know. Is it by virtue of me choosing to take the 100k that they get the 250k? In which case it becomes very important for me to know who I'm empowering. If I'm empowering "some guy", any of my neighbors, my friends, my family, or many members of my local community, I'd totally take the 100k option. If, on the other hand (presupposing I only get to choose between the 50k and the 100k) "other people" include a large number of random people that may or may not be part of my local community I'd have to be more cautious in taking the larger value. Furthermore, as Richard Leonheart noted, I'd have to think about inflation - if all this was just newly printed money ex nihilo, then money would have to be devalued as a result (I mean an instant 600k - minimum, based on wording - floating around will impact a local economy). If this was just, say, siphoning funds from elsewhere, I'd want to know where the money was coming from and why it was being siphoned from that place.

In short, it may be completely irresponsible of me to accept the higher amount of money. In a game setting for low stakes: who cares? In a life-long commitment and long-term impact in the world (with high stakes), I'd better care.

If, on the other hand, as so often in physics, we're just presupposing a perfect system ("oh, hey, free money that no one's using and will disappear if not used, and have no negative impacts, and will not go to people known to use their resources to do wrong things"), then yes, absolutely, I'd take the higher option. But that's a lot of presuppositions to make.

* Though I think this has more to do with my natural number bias (I like the number five! Almost as much as three, seven, and eight!), than anything else - it was just an impulse, rather than what I'd truly settle on.

EDIT: removed redundant wording.


Tacticslion wrote:
Strangely, though, when presented with the options of making 50k or making 100k, my impulse was to go with the 50k*. Even more strangely, it was only immediately thereafter that I realized that everyone else' salary changed from 25k to 250k.

My first impulse was to pick 50k too, but it lasted for a second or two needed to compare the numbers correctly. Afterwards I was adamant on taking 100k. Remember there was specific (if very artificial) assumption that prices would remain the same so the 100k would buy you twice as much as 50k.


In the first dilemma, picking A is always better and id do it every time. The second dilemma is more complex, due to the choice yielding the highest difference in economy. There's been several studies showing people in unequal societies being more unhappy than those living in less unequal societies, even if the first society has a higher average standard of living.

Dedicated Voter 2013, Dedicated Voter 2014

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber
Simon Legrande wrote:
When it comes to money, many people are irrational...

Money itself has no intrinsic value. It's only value is how much you have in relation to how much everyone else has.

Money is also a measurement of your relative worth in your professional environment.

These two facts make picking B out of a gut feeling seem not that irrational (even thought in the example as given A is the best choice).


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Drejk wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
Strangely, though, when presented with the options of making 50k or making 100k, my impulse was to go with the 50k*. Even more strangely, it was only immediately thereafter that I realized that everyone else' salary changed from 25k to 250k.
My first impulse was to pick 50k too, but it lasted for a second or two needed to compare the numbers correctly. Afterwards I was adamant on taking 100k. Remember there was specific (if very artificial) assumption that prices would remain the same so the 100k would buy you twice as much as 50k.

Sure. That's the point of my disclaimer down at the bottom which indicates that, given a perfect "physics-textbook-like" scenario, I'd go for the 100k every time. I was just showing my thought process.

Reference "equal v. unequal" countries: I've not seen those studies, and I'd be interested in doing so. From experience, though, I can say with fair certainty that you're not talking about former USSR countries* ('cause they were really loads unhappy before they became free - I remember, I was there).

* Of course, much of the "equality" there was an illusion. So, there's that.


Ill get references later when at a real computer. No, not ussr; there's a huge load if reasons people where unhappy there. Oh, also i forgot to say, it only applies after a certain basic threshold if living standards; if everyone is starving, they're not happy.

I think there's an easily accessible book on the topic, afaik its called "the happiness doctrine". But i could be wrong. Ill link later.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
stringburka wrote:

Ill get references later when at a real computer. No, not ussr; there's a huge load if reasons people where unhappy there. Oh, also i forgot to say, it only applies after a certain basic threshold if living standards; if everyone is starving, they're not happy.

I think there's an easily accessible book on the topic, afaik its called "the happiness doctrine". But i could be wrong. Ill link later.

Yeah, there were many, many reasons why people weren't happy there. I'll look forward to reading stuff!


Oh, back with a source.

The Spirit Level by Richard G Wilkinson and Kate Picket. It's a good read.

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