A reading club with a view to the future

260 Erez Yoeli, Moshe Hoffman: Hidden Games

This book explores why people behave in ways that are contrary to their own interests and how to change that.

Erez Yoeli, Moshe Hoffman: Hidden Games


The authors delve into the science of why people engage in behaviors that are detrimental to their own interests, and how to alter those behaviors. They explore the concept of hidden games, or the idea that people are engaging in a type of game where they are incentivized to behave in ways that are not in their best interest. By understanding the rules of these hidden games, individuals can change the behaviors of others and themselves. The book includes case studies and practical examples to help readers apply the concepts to their own lives.


Title: Hidden Games: How to Understand and Change the Undesirable Behavior of Others

Author: Erez Yoeli, Moshe Hoffman

Publishing Year: 2022

Publisher: Audible Studios

Length in hours: 10 hours and 41 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. Hidden games are ubiquitous and often lead to undesirable outcomes.
  2. Identifying the hidden games is key to understanding why people behave in certain ways.
  3. Behavioral nudges can help people break out of hidden games and make better choices.
  4. Social networks can be powerful in changing behaviors and incentivizing better outcomes.
  5. The ability to change behaviors is not only useful in personal life but also in the workplace and in public policy.
Erez Yoeli, Moshe Hoffman: Hidden Games

5 funny quotes

  • "If you want to convince someone to do something they are not doing, find out what they think they are already doing and explain to them why they are already doing what you want them to do."
  • "We are not the only animals that can deceive. Chimps and monkeys are great at it. But they are also great at getting caught."
  • "If your three-year-old refuses to wear pants, she may be playing a coordination game."
  • "A good way to understand the basic principles of game theory is to play board games with friends or family members."
  • "If a stranger offers you a ride, it is not because they are feeling generous. They are probably trying to get something from you."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  • "The danger of collective action problems is that the benefits of cooperation are large, but the costs of not cooperating are spread across many people, making it difficult to coordinate."
  • "When we don't see the games being played, we may inadvertently fall victim to them."
  • "The more difficult the problem, the more important it is to communicate with your counterparts about your shared interests and your potential for joint gains."
  • "Humans have evolved not to pursue self-interest, but to pursue social norms that enable them to coordinate."
  • "The optimal strategy is to choose an action that takes advantage of other people’s emotions while preventing others from taking advantage of yours."

5 dilemmas

  • The chicken game is a classic example of a game where both parties have incentives to escalate their behavior, leading to a potentially disastrous outcome.
  • In the ultimatum game, the first player must decide how to divide a sum of money between themselves and the second player. If the second player rejects the offer, both players receive nothing.
  • The tragedy of the commons refers to situations where individuals act in their own self-interest, but their collective behavior leads to the depletion of a shared resource.
  • The dictator game is similar to the ultimatum game, but with one key difference: the first player can decide how much to give the second player, without fear of rejection.
  • The stag hunt game is an example of a coordination game, where both parties must choose to cooperate in order to achieve a positive outcome.

5 examples

  • The Prisoner's Dilemma is often used as a simple illustration of game theory. It's used in various fields, including economics, politics, biology, and psychology.
  • The Kyoto Protocol is a prime example of how international cooperation can be challenging due to collective action problems.
  • The behavior of the Titanic's passengers during its sinking can be analyzed using game theory.
  • In 2013, Samsung was fined for hiring people to post negative comments about its competitor HTC on the internet, highlighting the use of online reputation games.
  • Facebook's algorithm is designed to keep users engaged and on the platform as long as possible, creating a game-like experience for users.

Referenced books

  1. "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  2. "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman
  3. "Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions" by Dan Ariely
  4. "The Strategy of Conflict" by Thomas C. Schelling
  5. "Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness" by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein

Share a quote

"If a stranger offers you a ride, it is not because they are feeling generous. They are probably trying to get something from you."

Erez Yoeli, Moshe Hoffman: Hidden Games
Become a NextBook Insider

Join our community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.