Bottleneck Example

Published by Mario Oettler on

A very simple example of selfish behavior is the following game. There is a metal plate at the end of the string just small enough to fit through the bottleneck.

Each participant holds one string in their hands. The task is to pull on the string and pull out the metal plate from the bottle. The participant who succeeds first wins a prize. After the start signal, each participant pulls as fast as he can. The result is that the metal plates become wedged together in the bottleneck, and nobody wins. Again, the individual rational behavior is to pull as quickly as possible. If they could agree on who pulls first, at least one player would receive the prize. They also could agree to share the prize equally after the game.