Game theory

Did the Election Change How Men and Women Negotiate?

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Men have become much more aggressive with women in their negotiation style since Donald Trump became president, according to a new Game Theory simulation-based study. More aggressive tactics by men are leading to reduced mutual benefits and a destruction

Accordingto a study to be published in the May issue of American Economic Review, mens’ negotiation style with women has become much more aggressive since Donald Trump became president.

The authors of the study, Corrine Low and Jennie Huang from the University of Pennsylvania, used a “Battle of the Sexes” game theory simulation to gauge whether men’s negotiation styles had changed since the 2016 election.

According to the rules of the study’s “Battle of Sexes” simulation, each pair of subjects was given $20 to split. They had only two options: One person would get $15 and the other would get $5, or vice versa. If an impasse were reached, both would get $0.

In this study, pairs were randomly assigned, and weren’t necessarily male-female. The researchers informed some pairs about the genders of pair members, but withheld that information in the case of other pairs. The researchers used an online chat tool to track the communication, and used third-party observers to code the interactions as either “aggressive” or “cooperative”.

Acording to the study, Trump's election “disrupted community norms around civility and chivalry.” (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Trump’s election “disrupted community norms around civility and chivalry,” according to the authors of the Game Theory simulation-based study (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)

The experiment’s first simulation was conducted before the election (October), and researchers found that, in normal unstructured communication, men were less likely to use tough negotiation tactics when paired with female partners, and also that they were more likely to offer the higher reward of the game (the $15 payoff) to female partners.

When the…

Choosing the right cyberattack response is a complicated game

HACK REACT Responding to a cyberattack isn’t straightforward; a new game theory analysis reveals when a counterattack is and isn’t a good strategy.

Many Americans were outraged over Russia’s e-mail hacking during the 2016 presidential election and expected a vigorous response from the U.S. government. But new research that views cyberattacks from a game theory perspective suggests that the delayed response was a sound one.

While instinct suggests that such attacks deserve swift retaliation, viewing cyberwarfare through a mathematical lens can reveal situations where that knee-jerk response is useless. The new study, published online February 27 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explores various cyberattack scenarios as games of strategy where rational choices are made by the attacker and the victim. This game theory analysis finds that how or even whether to respond to an attack depends on how much and what the players know about each other.

The take-home message of the study is sobering, says Jon Lindsay, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Toronto. “It’s not just about whodunit,” he says. “They’ve shown that you can invest a lot in identifying who carried out an attack but that’s not necessarily going to stop the attackers.”

The analysis makes explicit what many victims know, whether attacked by a schoolyard bully or foreign government: Vulnerability matters. Consider an attacker A, who strikes out at victim B. After the attack, the response depends largely on the vulnerability of the players. The victim can hurt a vulnerable attacker and gain from that strategy. Or, if the attacker is invulnerable, the victim can pay a cost for trying to fight back. In the schoolyard, for instance, telling a teacher about a bully might mean future torment with no relief, making it safest to do nothing.

In the realm of cyberattacks, vulnerability can be interpreted in several ways. The United States, for example, could have industrial secrets that make it…