The Nice Guy That Finishes First! – The Prisoner’s Dilemma

In our everyday world we know the expression “Nice guys finish last” and it’s closely tied to how we as individuals interact with others within the confines of society. Sure, there are rules and etiquettes that guide us toward doing the right thing, but often we find ourselves outmatched by other human competition that plays unfair and thus manages to get ahead of the ones that are fair.

I would now like to turn your attention toward an eye-opening experiment. It’s called The Prisoner’s Dilemma and it may just be what you, the nice guy, were looking for if you felt the need for some reassurance that playing by the rules, being ethical and rational will get you ahead.


In this experiment we have two people that each have a set of two cards in their hands: One has Cooperate written on it and the other Defect. There are multiple rounds where each of the two people must place only one of the two cards face-down (without the other person knowing what it is). Hence, there exist multiple outcomes to each round. For every situation we offer a reward, as such:

  • Both players choose Cooperate – They both win $300
  • Both players choose Defect – They both lose $10
  • If one plays Defect and the other Cooperate -> The one who defected wins $500 and the one who cooperated loses $100

At this very point you are maybe wondering how could people that are nice and cooperate finish first, or in other words win. Surely the most amount of money is gained from screwing your opponent over by defecting and thus winning $500 (not to mention that you make him lose a lot of money as well).

Well let’s analyze it like this: If I were to play this game with you and I would play Defect the best option for you (in a monetary/mathematical term) would be to play Defect as well, because you would lose only $10, as opposed to your only other option which would have cost you $100.

Let’s say this time I play Cooperate, but for you the same monetary/mathematical option would remain viable – play Defect. Why? Because you win $500 and I lose $100. Your other option would be to have Cooperated as well, but that would mean that you would only get $300 and I would get the same amount. You’re surely much more interested in the $500, right?

So from the above two examples we can state that for ‘you’ the best logical move would be to play Defect, because that will earn you the most amount of money. But here is where the individual has to take a step back and think about the other individuals in the equation. You are not the only intelligent person trying to “win” in society. What would happen if I would also follow this logic when playing this game?

Take the same you and I from the previous example and let’s assume that we both know that playing Defect would constitute in the “smartest” move in order to get money. What would we get? Well if we both play Defect over and over again we would both lose $10 again and again. So it may be the smartest move when you consider it from one individual’s standpoint, but it does not work between multiple individuals who share the same knowledge.

If we have simply Cooperated we could have both won $300 instead of losing $10.


The link to “nice guys” as I have mentioned is linked to analysis done by sever scientist that calculated the total amount of money that different people scored during the experiment. People that generally are considered nice mostly started by cooperating, they were forgiving when others were trying to defect on them and were non-envious when the opponent also won money. These cooperative people scored higher than the ones that were trying to be devious and tricky defecting more often.

So the bottom line that the Prisoner’s Dilemma shows us is that cooperating with other members of society instead of trying to trick them for your own gain will have great benefits in the long run. We can see how society is actually a reflection of nature (as we have evolved from it): we see a bird that helps remove parasites from hard to reach areas of another bird and thus they both benefit by living in a helpful community, but if they do not cooperate they are easily rejected and will not receive help in the future.

From a human’s standpoint this example remains the same. While you may feel that some cutthroat or envious people may get the best of you temporarily, science shows that in the long run the persons that are altruistic and nice will definitely get ahead in life. Evolution even confers that individuals with nice behavior are more likely to integrate into society and have offsprings.






What’s your group, to tell you how you are…

Have you ever wonder why do people behave the way they do, and also why do they join some groups?

One of the answers is that people are made to live together, that’s why human kind is recognized in individual, family, group, ethnicity, society and nation. If we look around, we can observe a person style and behavior, and due to the formed stereotypes, we can associate him or her with something.

For instance, we walk on the street and there’s a man with long curly hair, leather jeans and a black T-shirt. Yes, he is a rocker. Or, we go out, in a pub, and we see a nice dressed woman, but with a bottle of vodka and Tabaco; you’d say she’s an alcoholic, but next few minutes some friends surround her. You’d say it’s her night out with her friends, right? Of course, this is how I used to do, until myself heard some rumors about me, and I could not believe, because I had an escapade then and I’m sure I am not like that- drunk-girl. Then I realized how important is to be part of a group, usually a huge one, with nice reputation and image.

So what are social groups?

Well, they appear everywhere and are a basic of human life and consist of two or more people who regularly interact and share a sense of unity and common identity. You can be part of a club, college class, workplace, sport team or church group.

There are 2 types of social groups:

Primary: those that are close-knit; typically small scale, include intimate relationships and are usually long lasting. E.g. friends from kindergarten, or nuclear family.

Secondary: these have the opposite characteristics of primary groups, as they can be small or large and are mostly impersonal and usually short term, which are typically found at work and school; sometimes these groups become pretty informal and the members get to know each other fairly well, but even so, their friendships exists in a limited context. E.g. NGO’s.

(Now I understand why the childhood friends are forever and the rest who come are temporary, until you’ve used them or they’ve used you for whatever interests.)

An issue with individual and groups might be that the others use to generalize and sometimes is harmful. For example, there’s a ‘manele’ group, and you see a very nice boy, president of some company, sitting at the table, enjoying the music. You instantly think, ‘oh, gosh, he’s so handsome, but he is ‘cocalar’,, his company may be like that as well, just because is in that entourage. I personally do not agree with this, and my advice would be to watch, think and then speak about something you find or see for the first time.

Don’t forget to be attentive of your group because it is part of your life- choose the one that suits you!


Being Awkward….

How many times did you come across social actions that embarrassed either you or the people next to you? Let’s give a few examples: Going for a hug and receiving a handshake instead; Saying goodbye to someone before the bus arrives at its station, but realizing that you have to wait another minute before it comes to a full stop so you stare at each other not knowing what to say; Forgetting someone’s name; and many other situations which we consider awkward.

So what is it about this uncomfortable feeling that exists in our society that give it so much importance? On a day-to-day basis we struggle not to fall into the pit of awkwardness. I tend to think that this knowledge about what to do or not do in public is a positive thing; in other words: Feeling awkwardness is good for society.

We have to start by thinking about social behavior, about what we, as humans, do in everyday life. With the following graph I will explain how we mold our actions and how our actions are molded by several characteristics.



Let’s look at it from the bottom up. Firstly we have the Laws of Science that are pretty self-explanatory: we, as humans, can’t fly, achieve light speed or breathe underwater. We grow hair, not feathers, are warm blooded, eat and sleep. In other words we have learned either through our instincts or through our parents that we can’t mess with physics or biology, so we act accordingly.

Another factor that shapes our behavior lies within the laws and rules of your society. We know that stealing, assault or murder are deemed illegal and, as such, present grave risks for people that undertake such actions. The risks are of course fines or prison sentences and many times outweigh the benefits. So people generally follow these conducts in society:



Now we are left with etiquette or with what some consider to be manners. These are the unwritten rules of society that mark a person as being polite or impolite. They are customs/mores/traditions that guide us towards living together without conflict. It is not illegal, for example, to chew with your mouth open, to pick your nose in public or to turn your back on somebody when they are talking, but it is considered disgraceful. The risks that are present here are not like the ones mentioned before; instead a disrespectful person hazards being shunned out by society and being labeled as being rude, annoying or gross.

At the very top of this social behavior pyramid we have awkwardness, or self-consciousness. A process that finalizes our social mold. It smooths down social dynamics in places where laws and manners do not reach. There are no rules that state how long a hug should last and nobody could point you to a custom that states a duration clearly. The process of hugging can have so many variables that only the people involved can guess when to let go. When you hug your friend for longer than they expected it certainly is not illegal or impolite, but it is awkward.

This feeling that we generally associate with something bad or undesirable is one of the factors involved in having better cooperation between individuals in a society. It is a feeling that our brains have evolved into having so that we can get nudged into avoiding certain actions and live together peacefully. As humans we learn not to put our hand in fire; As citizens we understand that it is illegal to kill somebody; As members of society we know that it’s impolite to caught in another person’s direction; and as empathetic beings we now know what to avoid doing in public thanks to awkwardness.




Special Thanks:

Vsauce, The Science of Awkwardness,


Matthew Feinberg, Robb Willer, and Dacher Keltner, Flustered and Faithful: Embarrassment as a Signal of Prosociality,

Reddit, Cringe,

Maia Szalavitz, Why Your Embarrassment Causes Me So Much Pain,

Kirsten Weir, Oh no you didn’t!,

Ethan Kross, Marc G. Berman, Walter Mischel, Edward E. Smith, Tor D. Wager, Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain,

Michael Torrice, Socially Awkward? Check Your Genes,

A mashup of individual, society and class

by Ruxi Pătrașcu

At the moment my brain is flooded by a list of misunderstood questions and mumbling voices desperately trying to point a direction. I stopped to read the previous line and my brain turned to silenzio stampa.


First part – Readings (part of them)

Class usually explain the economic distribution throughout a society, also is often underlines the inequalities. According to Wright class can be divided by 5 themes:

1. Class as a subjective location – (high-school all over again)

“Categories of class might change because of location or the historical frame(senses of economic difference of ”others”)”. Also it is collectively shared by sub-groups, can be a starting point for class analysis and it does “not depend on objective criteria but rather a lived awareness of social difference that can be traced back to economic difference”

2. Class as social position – (oh, really?!)

This one is measured by economical achievements, which will determine the standards of living. It divides class as it follows: upper class, working class, middle class. Social position is elementary measured by one’s income.

3. Class as life chance – (you don’t say)

Class becomes a predictor of one’s chance of life

4. Class as historical dimension of inequality  – (I have no idea what I’m doing here)

“This dimension refers to the way in which systems of economic production allow for the extraction of profits from labour.”

5. Class as a political category – (fun was had)

The battle of two concepts of two big, bright and dead men: Marx and Weber.