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Grim trigger

In game theory, grim trigger (also called the grim strategy or just grim) is a trigger strategy for a repeated game, such as an iterated prisoner's dilemma. Initially, a player using grim trigger will cooperate, but as soon as the opponent defects (thus satisfying the trigger condition), the player using grim trigger will defect for the remainder of the iterated game. Since a single defect by the opponent triggers defection forever, grim trigger is the most strictly unforgiving of strategies in an iterated game.

In iterated prisoner's dilemma strategy competitions, grim trigger performs poorly even without noise, and adding signal errors makes it even worse. Its ability to threaten permanent defection gives it a theoretically effective way to sustain trust, but because of its unforgiving nature and the inability to communicate this threat in advance, it performs poorly.[1]

In Robert Axelrod's book The Evolution of Cooperation, grim trigger is called "Friedman", for a 1971 paper by James Friedman which uses the concept.[2]

See also


  1. ^ Axelrod, Robert (2000). "On Six Advances in Cooperation Theory" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-11-02.  (page 13)
  2. ^ Friedman, James W. (1971). "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames". Review of Economic Studies 38 (1): 1–12. doi:10.2307/2296617. 

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