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How Well Do People Play a Quantum Prisoner's Dilemma?


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Kay-Yut Chen and Tad Hogg
HP Labs


Game theory suggests quantum information processing technologies could provide useful new economic mechanisms. For example, using shared entangled quantum states can alter incentives so as to reduce the free-rider problem inherent in economic contexts such as public goods provisioning. However, game theory assumes players understand fully the consequences of manipulating quantum states and are rational. Its predictions do not always describe human behavior accurately. To evaluate the potential practicality of quantum economic mechanisms, we experimentally tested how people play the quantum version of the prisoner's dilemma game in a laboratory setting using a simulated version of the underlying quantum physics. Even without formal training in quantum mechanics, people nearly achieve the payoffs theory predicts, but do not use mixed-strategy Nash equilibria predicted by game theory. Moreover, this correspondence with game theory for the quantum game is closer than that of the classical game.

Full paper in PDF format

appeared in Quantum Information Processing, 5:43-67 (2006), with the original publication available at www.springerlink.com


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