Why Game Theory Says You Should Take a Nap
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Why Game Theory Says You Should Take a Nap

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Why Game Theory Says You Should Take a Nap
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Game theory is the mathematical study of models in conflict and competition between rational decision makers. It is often used in the study of economics, psychology and computer science, but you use it in your daily life probably without even knowing.

Do you have a big project coming up? That you've barely even started on? But you are exhausted and stressed on top of everything. Taking a nap, even though it feels like another form of procrastination, may actually be your most rational action.

In this game, there are two players: your present self and your future self. Each player has two possible actions: Player 1 can choose to nap or not to nap, and Player 2 can choose to work hard or to slack off.

Here is what the game tree for this game looks like:

The red and blue numbers at the end of the line show your payoffs from each possible action. As you can see, the red and blue payoffs for each player are the same because you become your future self, so their action directly influences your ultimate payoff. This game is unique because every person's preferences are different. I personally have a strong preference for doing well in class and I know I work better under pressure. In game theory, anytime one strategy is completely better than another it is called a "dominate strategy." In this case, since 3> -1 and since 1=1, we can say that the strategy for your present self to take a nap, weakly dominates your present self's other option, which is to not take a nap because you are not exactly better off, but you aren't worse off either.

It is important to note that every person's payoffs will look a little different because every person's bounded rationality is different.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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