Zhou, HJ (reprint author), Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Theoret Phys, State Key Lab Theoret Phys, Beijing 100080, Peoples R China.
; Zhou, Hai-Jun] Chinese Acad Sci, Inst Theoret Phys, State Key Lab Theoret Phys, Beijing 100080, Peoples R China
In an iterated non-cooperative game, if all the players act to maximize their individual accumulated payoff, the system as a whole usually converges to a Nash equilibrium that poorly benefits any player. Here we show that such an undesirable destiny is avoidable in an iterated Rock-Paper-Scissors (RPS) game involving two rational players, X and Y. Player X has the option of proactively adopting a cooperation-trap strategy, which enforces complete cooperation from the rational player Y and leads to a highly beneficial and maximally fair situation to both players. That maximal degree of cooperation is achievable in such a competitive system with cyclic dominance of actions may stimulate further theoretical and empirical studies on how to resolve conflicts and enhance cooperation in human societies.