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Chimpanzees: Game Theory experts

Chimpanzees are one of the most intelligent species in the world, to the point where in some scenarios they can outsmart humans. A recent article, published in the prestigious scientific journal “Nature”, evaluates how Chimpanzees perform in different Game Theory scenarios and the quality of their performance compared to human performance (Martin et al.). According to the economist Roger B. Meyerson , Game Theory is study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers.

In Martin et al. study, Chimpanzee pairs or human pairs played a two person video game where each player had to choose between left and right squares on a touch screen, while not being aware of the rival’s choice. Player A would win if his choice matched with his opponent’s choice. Player B won if the choices were different. The payoffs for the game were in form of money (humans) or apple cubes (Chimpanzees). The results of the experiment indicate that Chimpanzees played a close to ideal game, as their choices were very close to the Game Theory equilibrium. In contrast, human’s responses were distant to the theoretical predictions. In Game Theory, equilibrium is a solution option in which no player can gain by a change of strategy as long as the other players remain unchanged. The game played in this experiment is a memory test that quantifies how well the participant remembers the opponent’s choice story and the participants’ ability to follow choice patterns. Based on the results, it has been hypothesized that Chimpanzees might have a more advanced memory and strategy that allows them to outperform humans in this type of activities.

One of the researchers’ concluding points was that Game Theory could be interpreted as an evolutive theory. This theory states that Game Theory equilibrium is very applicable to strategy choices that have an evolutionary value or that were frequently practiced in development and into adulthood. This study performed by Martin et al. is a great example of Game Theory being applicable to a wide range of fields.

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