The game of chicken, also known as the hawk-dove game or snowdrift game, is a model of conflict for two players in game theory.
Game theory is "the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers."
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The principle of the game is that while it is to both players’ benefit if one player yields, the other player's optimal choice depends on what his opponent is doing: if his opponent yields, the player should not, but if the opponent fails to yield, the player should.
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The name "chicken" has its origins in a game in which two drivers drive towards each other on a collision course: one must swerve, or both may die in the crash, but if one driver swerves and the other does not, the one who swerved will be called a "chicken," meaning a coward; this terminology is most prevalent in political science and economics.
Political science is a social science discipline that deals with systems of government, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts and political behaviour.
Economics is a social science concerned with the factors that determine the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.
The name "Hawk-Dove" refers to a situation in which there is a competition for a shared resource and the contestants can choose either conciliation or conflict; this terminology is most commonly used in biology and evolutionary game theory.
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, evolution, distribution, identification and taxonomy.
Evolutionary game theory is the application of game theory to evolving populations in biology.
From a game-theoretic point of view, "chicken" and "hawk-dove" are identical; the different names stem from parallel development of the basic principles in different research areas.
The game has also been used to describe the mutual assured destruction of nuclear warfare, especially the sort of brinkmanship involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, also known as the Caribbean Crisis, or the Missile Scare, was a 13-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union concerning American ballistic missile deployment in Italy and Turkey with consequent Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba.
Mutual assured destruction or mutually assured destruction is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender.
Brinkmanship is the practice of trying to achieve an advantageous outcome by pushing dangerous events to the brink of active conflict.