Big Boss and Game Theory..

Hansika Kapoor and Anirudh Tagat of Monk Prayogshala (do check this interesting place) have this interesting piece. Given the social dynamics in the Bog Boss is a great place to use game theory and other human behaviour tactics. We should be having such articles every year with a new Bog Boss season giving you ideas on what each player is thinking and broad strategies used by him/her.

For a psychologist and an economist deeply interested in human behaviour, as these writers are, Bigg Boss offers a view into the strategic (and sometimes not-so-strategic) interaction between participants, and are illuminating from the perspective of social psychology and game theory. This particular approach to popular culture is not new.

There has been some study of applying the game theory concept to reality television shows, but not yet to Bigg Boss. Using episodes from the somewhat similar game show Survivor, a study from 2002 found that there is an optimal size of alliance that will help achieve victory (but only for one player).

Given that the current season of Bigg Boss (Double Trouble, 2015) groups all contestants into pairs, team dynamics will be of great importance. While most research focuses on TV shows with instant cash prizes (Deal Or No Deal, The Weakest Link, among others), social psychology research, as far as such interactions are concerned, tends to focus on the role of gossip and displays of power.

Since Bigg Boss housemates typically encounter each other on a continual basis (until they are evicted), communication plays a crucial role in enabling victory for any player. It is likely that most communication takes place only through gossip in Bigg Boss. In past seasons, we have seen that most conflicts between housemates arise out of judgement-based conversations between other players. Every week, housemates vote to decide which housemate is to be evicted from the Bigg Boss house, a task that requires coordination and clear communication to pull off.

What if housemates aren’t well-coordinated and can’t be trusted? One of the key dynamics that may be influencing housemate behaviour is attributed to a constant conflict between self-interest and other-regarding behaviour. Contestants face the dilemma of basing their actions purely to prolong their own survival on the show (which increases their chances of winning) or to ensure that no rival is worse off because of their actions (which may involve being altruistic). Therefore, there is a trade-off between cooperating with others (to save oneself from being evicted) and ensuring that no one else gains from such cooperation (to ensure that non-cooperators are evicted as soon as possible).

They even cite an example from last year’s Big Boss series. ..

Good stuff.

Actually Big Boss could be used to explain many exotic concepts of game theory. The trouble with game theory is that it has been made so so mathematical, that it has lost its essence. As a result, what could be a great tool to figure these social dynamics is best avoided.

One Response to “Big Boss and Game Theory..”

  1. Tanya Jain Says:

    Agreed. I think game theory is a concept that is quite common, examples can be derived quite easily from our everyday life.

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