Game Theory—Dating Strategy

In the course, the professor introduced a game called “Battle of the Sexes” in order to further elaborate the notion and the application of the Nash equilibrium. He stressed that coordination is extremely important in our daily lives because different people have different interests. Therefore, I am going to be nerdy and to explain a situation during a date in terms of a Nash equilibrium so that we can draw meaningful lessons from it.

Let’s say there are three movies provided in a movie theatre: Fast & Furious Six, Titanic and Snow White. My date and I are trying to figure out which movie to watch so that we can enjoy our time together. We do not know which one to choose, however. A way to solve this problem is to put on our economic hat and draw a payoff model based on our perception of the films and of our personal interests.

I figure that since we are both adults, it is highly unlikely that we will both agree to watch Snow White. Furthermore, I do not like Snow White personally, neither does my date. Therefore, I will give Snow White a negative payoff when I am drawing the payoff matrix, because watching Snow White will be a waste of time for both my date and me. Furthermore, I am an energetic and aggressive person, so I like action movies more than I like romantic movies. As both Fast & Furious Six and Titanic are good choices to spend the night but I love Fast & Furious Six better, I will give Fast & Furious Six a slightly higher positive payoff while giving Titanic a slightly lower positive payoff. On the other hand, my date is romantic, so she likes Titanic more than Fast & Furious Six. I also figure that she will not mind too much if she watches Fast & Furious Six with me. Therefore, I will give Titanic a higher positive payoff while giving Fast & Furious Six a lower positive payoff for my date. After compiling all the information above, a payoff matrix can be drawn as follows:


By analyzing the graph, we can find two Nash equilibria strategies, which are ideal situations that my date and I are reacting to each other’s choice in the best way. These two Nash equilibria are either we both go to see Fast & Furious Six or we both go to see Titanic. One factor that we need to take into account, however, is that the payoffs between my date and me are different in each Nash equilibrium strategy: One Nash equilibrium favors my situation and the other one favors my date’s. My date is better off if we both see Titanic, while I am better of if we both see Fast & Furious Six. As a result, if we do not handle this situation carefully, an altercation might result.

I believe this is a dilemma that people always face while dating. When two people’s interests are different, which one should we favor? The answer to this problem is to communicate and to coordinate! If my date has been waiting for Titanic for two years, I should sympathize with my date’s feeling and follow her. If she, however, is tolerant of my ego or if today is my birthday, my date will probably follow me. Therefore, “Battle of the Sexes” is a classic example of how game theory applies to dating settings. Although this situation might be simple and even self-explanatory in our daily, this model nevertheless teaches us an important life lesson: when there are Nash equilibria concerning different interests of different people, communication is always the best way to solve this dilemma!



Work Cited

“Looking for a Date.” Consumer Instinct. Caterpillar Labs, n.d. Web. 1 Oct.
2014. <

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