See the book “Rational Ritual: Culture, Coordination, and Common Knowledge” by Michael Suk-Young Chwe.

]]>In a stag hunt there is a stable win-win Nash Equilibrium where no one has an incentive to defect. That contrasts with Prisoner’s Dilemma, where cooperation gets only second-best, and is unstable, since the individual incentive is to defect to get the best outcome (but if both defect, then both end up at second-worst.

For an interesting synthesis of research on stag hunts and their implications, see Brian Skyrms, The Stag Hunt and the Evolution of Social Structure.

There is actually a family (or herd) of stag hunts, also known as coordination or assurance games, all with two Nash Equilibria, one of which is win-win where both get their best outcome, but variations in how the other payoffs are distributed. Robinson and Goforth’s topology of 2×2 games provides a way to map how these are related by swaps in payoffs. For some enhanced visualizations of the topology (that I’ve developed), see 2x2chart.com

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