Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 8, Iss. 3, July, 2004, pp. 345-374
@2004 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Coordination Learning in Stag Hunt Games with Application to Emergency Management

Stephen J. Guastello, Marquette University
Robert W. Bond, Jr., Marquette University

Abstract: Response teams for natural disaster emergencies require coordinated and self-organized efforts for rescue, medical services, damage containment, and evacuation. The unfolding of events depends on initial conditions of specific time, location, and preparedness of the response teams. This study considered a new range of emergency response situations where the perpetrator is a sentient attacker that learns with repeated exchanges. The strategy is conceptualized as a stag hunt coordination game on the part of the defense agents and a strictly competitive game with respect to the attacking adversary. Participants were 28 university students who played an iterative board game (The Creature that Ate Sheboygan) wherein a team of three Humans represented military and civil resources, against one Godzilla-type monster. The Monster gained points by destroying buildings and human combat power. The Humans gained points by wearing down the Monsterís defenses and containing damage caused by the Monster. Experimental manipulations and empirical analysis showed the following: Communication outages among the Humans assisted the Monster, but the ability to communicate only equalized the Humansí chances rather than providing them with an advantage. Coordination among Humans was instant, but it fluctuated greatly as a result of the Monsterís progress. Nonlinear analysis showed an asymptotic decline in coordination to a non-zero level in response to outcome uncertainty. Learning effects were noted for Humans and Monsters, but there were significant interactions with communication blackout conditions

Keywords: stag hunt, cooperation, emergency management, game theory, attractor