A furtive glance, a nervous chat, and finally you dare to ask that girl for her phone number. When you meet her on a first date, you will wear your best shirt and your new Italian shoes, and when you drive her to the new Greek restaurant your car will be freshly waxed. When humans date, they do pretty fancy stuff .
Some animals, however, do even more stunning things. For bragging rights, certain male lizards develop bright orange scarves around their necks. Because these capricious ornaments are biologically costly for the lizards, male lizards try to impress females by showing that they are strong enough to waste some of their energy on fancy displays, says Barry Sinervo, a behavioral biologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC). Indeed, many animals and humans show off their strength by flashing these seemingly inefficient and wasteful signs. It’s a form of conversation that not only rules dating but also many other conflicts, such as wage negotiations between unions and firms.
This is the conclusion of a group of researchers who call themselves game theorists. The researchers use games like poker as metaphors to try to explain strategies that conflicting parties use when they either disagree or try to persuade their opponents to adopt their own points of view. Economists were the first to use mathematics to model such situations. They view trading situations as games between consumers and sellers, and wage negotiations as matches between unions and companies. Later, scientists from different fields started using the same models and helped to move the field forward. For instance, evolutionary biologists explained the strange dating behavior they observed in lizards and birds using game theory….