SIMPLE AND COMPLEX CHICKEN GAMES (COMMENT). Dick Weisfelder in his comment points out that in a real life game of chicken, there are more possible outcomes than that one player wins and the other loses. Think of the “chicken game” with one player winning and the other losing as a model. In real world bargaining situations, the parties will often present their positions in chicken game language, but there are likely to be more complex outcomes. Thomas Schelling made the point that in real world “games” (bargaining situations), context is very important. (Even the nature of the road might affect the results of a chicken game with two cars driving at each other.) The results of negotiations are often very complex, as was the case with the latest debt ceiling crisis. Good negotiation is often not a matter of bluffing or determining who blinks first, but of imagination.

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  1. Dick Weisfelder says:

    The problem is that the chicken game was always more complex than you suggested. Even the “winning” option (not “chickening out) is typically so beset with risk that it is irrational and untenable especially in multiple plays of the game. The optinal solution is when both swerve entailing a small loss of face to avoid the lethal risk.

    Deutsch raised the interesting question of how to deal with an irrational player of this game. Suppose that one driver locked his/her steering wheel in the straight position and wore opaque glasses!

    I think there was a game of chicken in “Rebel Without a Cause.” Only in that one the cars were running side by side toward a cliff. Survival came by jumping out. The one to jump last was the “winner,” so that mutual destruction wouldn’t happen unless both waited too long. My vague recollection of the film was that one kid got stuck and went over the cliff, so, as you say, other factors can complicate matters.

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