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At the end of their final psychology exam, some University of Maryland students encountered a brain-twisting extra credit question.

So here’s what this means. Each student had a choice to make based on what he or she expected other students to decide. If everyone agreed to take less — 2 points — everyone would get the 2 points. If enough people tried to get all 6, nobody would get anything.

The puzzle is based on something called the “Prisoner’s Dilemma.” The idea is that two partners in crime are arrested, separated, and each given the option to rat out the other.

  • If neither one rats the other out, no charges are filed and they both go free.
  • If the Crook 1 rats out his partner and the partner doesn’t do the same thing, Crook 1 gets off altogether and Crook 2 goes to jail.
  • If the Crook 2 rats out his partner and the partner doesn’t do the same thing, Crook 2 gets off altogether and Crook 1 goes to jail.
  • If they both rat each other out, they both get a reduced sentence.

The students’ tormentor is their professor, psychology lecturer Dylan Selterman, who got this idea from a colleague at Johns Hopkins.

Since one of his students, Shahin Rafikian tweeted it, it’s gotten the academic Twitterverse going nuts, with more than 6,000 retweets.

So what happened? More than 10% of the students chose 6 points. No one got any extra points.

In fact, only one class since Selterman’s been doing this has ever gotten it right, sharing the 2-point love. What would your answer be?

This Extra Credit Exam Question Is Boggling People’s Minds

 

 

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