On this episode of Apalla, we’ll be talking about what is, in my opinion, one of the most intriguing concepts in psychology: that of the social game.
Essentially, just like how there are identifiable and stable patterns in normal human life, there are identifiable and stable patterns in interactions between people as well. This is what is referred to as the social game: the set of all interactions people have with one another, why these interactions occur, and what works best in each given game.
As part of the social game, there are two levels: the macrogame and the microgame. The macrogame relates to the social status of a person at any given point — that is, their place in the social hierarchy. The microgame, on the other hand, are individual social interactions that make up the placement in the social hierarchy.
Typically, people want to score highly in the social hierarchy because it gives them access to resources. For example, people are more likely to share information, food, shelter, romance, etc. with people whom they see as charismatic or socially conscious (i.e. people who are high on the social hierarchy). This, in generalized terms, is why we socialize in the first place — we recognize that alone we cannot do much, but in a group we improve our survival chances quite a bit.
Although things like gathering food for survival isn’t quite as relevant to modern day socialization, these fragments still exist. Now, as an example, we socialize to get better jobs. Better jobs give us more money, which gives us — you guessed it — more food and better shelter. Really, it all ties back to resources!
That being said, a deep-dive on this concept is complex. In normal game theory, we often work with incredible simple models, with simple actors and simple payouts. Imagine how complex your social interactions are in comparison! Because of this, social games are an emerging field; but there’s no question that they’re an important one as well.
Anyway, that’s a quick summary of social games. Next episode, we’ll bring back biases and talk about a few more interesting ones. See you then!