This post is going to just be a very brief introduction to what Game Theory is, how it works and some basic terminology. In later posts I will get more advanced and cover how it can be applied to Cultural Evolution.
What is Game Theory?
Game theory is a branch of applied mathematics most commonly used in Economics. However, it can be very successfully applied to other social sciences as well as Evolutionary Biology. It gives both descriptive answers (what people do) and prescriptive answers (what people should do) in a given game.
Why is this relevant?
Game Theory is a very good tool in predicting outcomes, not only in the very simple games covered in this post, but also in predicting the outcomes of evolutionary strategies and of predicting outcomes for signalling games which can inform us on human and animal communicative strategies. Running iterated games over populations can introduce interesting qualifications to these very simple ideas as well and explain some things which may, at first, appear maladaptive, as such is a very useful tool in bypassing our intuitions. It is of these things that the next few posts will explore.