Golden Balls: Split or Steal

This is an interesting tv show. Golden Balls is a British daytime game show. At the end of the show the contestants have to make one last decision over the final jackpot. They are each presented with two golden balls. One has “split” printed inside it and the other has “steal” printed inside it:

  • If both contestants choose the split ball, the jackpot is split equally between them.
  • If one contestant chooses the split ball and the other chooses the steal ball, the stealer gets all the money and the splitter leaves empty-handed.
  • If both contestants choose the steal ball, they both leave empty-handed.

It is similar to the prisoner’s dilemma in game theory, however, in this game the players are allowed to communicate. In North America, you might have seen the show “Friend or Foe?” which is quite similar.

split or steal
Link 1

split or steal
Link 2

There may not be a whole lot of math involved, but social scientists have studied the game. See the paper “Split or Steal? Cooperative Behavior When the Stakes are Large“.

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  1. hmmm… even in that conditions, “Steal ball” is the best response to every situation, so it is the point of equilibrium… specially after the first program with a “liar”.

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