Game theoryGame Theory and the COVID-19 Outbreak: Coordinating Our Interests at Individual to National Levels

Published 27 May 2020

Shedding light on how officials at different levels of government can work together to maximize COVID-safe behavior is a new goal of a multi-scale game theory project funded with $6.5 million from the Department of Defense. The University of Michigan notes that when human behavior is competitive, we don’t use resources in the way that is most efficient for the community—as seen in behaviors like mask, sanitizer and toilet paper hoarding. But most of our decisions about how to behave aren’t entirely individualistic. We make them as part of a community. We are swayed both by leadership—and the incentives and disincentives that they can offer—as well as altruism. Most of the literature in game theory examines individual behavior, but Liu and her colleagues are exploring what happens when decisions are made at multiple scales.