In this article about the Traveler's Dilemma
, the mathematics of game theory dictates one solution while most people typically choose another solution. Interestingly, real world tests prove that the "regular person solution" consistently garnishes better rewards than those who use the game theory approach. Sun Tzu's strategy not only tells us why most people pick the better solution, but why game theory doesn't recognize it. The answer also tells us a lot about successful cultures and how they different from unsuccessful ones.
First, if the two people choose to see the challenge as simply picking the same number, there are only two possible landmarks they can use to guide them. The "2" and "100" are visible, every other number is hidden. Of these two, "100" is attractive so their meeting point is clear.
After solving the problem of where to meet, there is another choice to be made: the choice to cooperate or to compete. The game theory solution is based upon the assumption that people will ALWAYS choose to compete because competition seemingly offers a better potential reward. However, there are a number of reasons that this assumption is wrong.
First, the first reaction of MOST people is to cooperate, not to compete, because in the most successful strategy in life is "tit-for-tat." In successful cultures, most people will accept some personal sacrifice to maximize mutual rewards. People and cultures who put a high priority on "beating others" rather than maximizing mutual rewards are not very successful. Finally, those who analyze the "competitive solution" must come to the conclusion that the ONLY competitive choice is "2," with all other choices given a small probability of success. This makes the choice between a cooperative or competitive strategy easy. The cooperative stategy has a clear right answer, "100," and should be the choice of anyone who would prefer to cooperates. The only competitive strategy has a certain reward is "2," proving again that conflict is always expensive and should be avoided if at all possible.