No Prisoner’s Dilemma with Mask Wearing

With most lockdown restrictions having been lifted in the UK since 19 July, the requirement to wear face masks in many public settings is no longer mandatory.

However, much as was the situation before the easing of restrictions, the public still fall into two distinct categories: those who prefer to wear masks and those who don’t.

Wearing a mask is an altruistic act, which may benefit those around you more than it does yourself.

The options for two people––A and B––meeting in a public place and hoping to reduce their chances of catching Covid, superficially look a bit like the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma conundrum:

  • If A and B both wears masks they both have a reduced chance of catching Covid
  • If A wears a mask and B doesn’t; A has an increased chance of catching Covid and B has a reduced chance
  • If A doesn’t wear a mask and B does; A has a reduced chance of catching Covid and B has an increased chance
  • If A and B both don’t wear masks they both have an increased chance of catching Covid

However, in this scenario, there is no dilemma when it comes to the best outcome for all.

Wear a mask.

© Simon Turner-Tree

Simon Turner-Tree continues to wear his face mask.

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