Overview

chicken


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

A two-person strategic game (1), generally considered to be the prototype of a dangerous game. In its canonical interpretation, two motorists speed towards each other. Each has the option of swerving to avoid a head-on collision or driving straight ahead. If both swerve, the outcome is a draw with second-best payoffs to each; if both drive straight ahead, they risk annihilation and each receives the worst (fourth-best) payoff; but if one chickens out by swerving while the other exploits the co-player's caution by driving straight on, then the swerver loses face and earns the third-best payoff, and the ‘exploiter’ wins a prestige victory and earns the best payoff. The game provides a strategic model of brinkmanship. Written accounts of Chicken can be traced at least as far as far back as the 8th century bc when the Greek epic poet Homer described in The Iliad (p. 273 of Rouse's translation) a version played with chariots that Antilochos won against Menelaos, but the game was first analysed and studied empirically in the early 1960s. See also Hawk-Dove game. [Named and first described in its canonical interpretation in 1959 by the Welsh philosopher Bertrand (Arthur William) Russell (1872–1970) in Common Sense and Nuclear Warfare (p. 30), from a slang sense of chicken, a cowardly person, which became popular after the release in 1955 of Nicholas Ray's film Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean, in which teenagers played a slightly different version of the game involving driving cars over a cliff and jumping out at the last moment]

Subjects: Psychology.


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.