Friday, April 20, 2012

Peer influence

I took Jessica to the Museum of Science today. We wanted to see the gecko exhibit before it closes in a couple of weeks.

After we were done, we went around the museum. They had this one exhibit where it demonstrated the prisoner's dilmenna , only with the theory that if both people cooperated they could share $100 ($50 each). If one person wanted to keep the money and the other person opted to share it, that one person got $100 and the sharer got none. If they both opted to keep the money, neither of them could keep it.

There was a 10 or 11 year old boy sitting in the other chair, as player 1. Jessica was player 2. The game went through 5 iterations, to see how your behavior changed based on how your opponent acted. Round 1: the boy hit "keep" and Jessica hit "share" so he got $100. Round 2: both of them hit "keep", Jessica because the boy had done it the previous round. Route 3: both of them hit keep. Round 4: Jessica tried to share again and the boy hit "keep." Round 5: they both hit "keep." Final result: the greedy boy got $200 and Jess got nothing. They played another set of 5 and the boy hit "keep" on every round.

I found this very annoying, particularly because when the boy got up and I took his place, I played a set with her. The first round? I hit "share" and she hit "keep" because she'd learned to do it from this kid. Round 2: I hit share, she hit keep.  Round 3: we both hit share. Round 4: I figured she'd hit share and wanted to teach her a lesson, so I hit keep. Round 5: we both trusted each other and hit share. She ended up with $100 more than me.

I know that if the 2 of us had sat down and she'd never interacted with the boy, we'd (probably) both have hit share every time. It made me a little sad.

* * *
I think I've been talking too much about money. What with taxes due, I've been keeping a tight rein on spending and when the kids ask for something, I say, "Not today, we're saving money."

Today I bought a new grill. When I picked Xander up from school, I told him I had bought it . He immediately responded, "So, how much did it cost?"

I didn't tell him.

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