Testing Tit for Tat in real life

This happened last year, I was curious to learn about evolution (at that time I was curious about many academic disciplines), so I went to YouTube and searched for evolution lectures. I found one lecture series by Stanford, taught by Professor Robert Sapolsky called Human Bahavioral Biology.

In one of the videos (maybe second or third video into the lecture), Professor Sapolsky mentioned one strategy of behavior among primates, that is Tit for Tat. Summary of Tit for Tat is you respond positively to someone if they do positive things to you and negatively if they do negative things to you.

I think this is different from the Golden Rule in that with Golden Rule, you treat others as you would like to be treated, so it does not depend on what others do to you, you do good no matter what others do.

So, I decided to try Tit for Tat out in real life. I had one friend where I always chat online. I used Tit for Tat in our conversations. The end result is not good, instead of harmoniously having the conversation, the conversation ended hostile, with silent treatment, we do not talk to each other for a few days.

So, what is wrong with this Tit for Tat. For one, if the person you are playing Tit for Tat does not back down and keep responding to your negative reaction negatively, this can lead to forever negative, just like the Cuban Missile standoff between USA and Soviet Union. If I have watched the videos further, I would have discovered that the drawback of Tit for Tat is it could escalate into an all out war if the other side does not back down. I learnt this in the book Rock, Paper, Scissors: Game Theory in Everyday Life, there are better strategies such as random kindness, etc.

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