Social scientists like psychologists, sociologists and alike study the issue of trust using a game known as Prisoner’s Dilemma. In this game, a scenario in which you and your friend are caught by the police and are interrogated. But the results for both of you to be punished by the law would be varied depending on the confession by both of you (you and your friend). So, which is which?
The scenario is like the following
Let’s say you and your friend rob a bank and you are not very good at robbing a bank so you get caught. The police arrest both of you and put you in separate rooms to interrogate you. You have no way to communicate with your friend. The cops offer you a deal: if you testify that your friend was the mastermind and he does not testify against you, you go free and he gets five years in prison. If you don’t testify against your friend but he testifies against you, you get five years and he goes free. If you both testify against each other, you both get three years. If you both refuse to testify, you both get one year.
The answer can be straight forward. If you knew you could trust each other, you both keep your mouths shut and get one year. But that might not be the case, right? That’s what prompt researcher like Robert Axelrod to further study what makes us decide on whom to trust and not. The answer might shock you. Tit for tat. Yup.