Hobbesian trap

Theory explaining why preemptive attacks occur / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The Hobbesian trap (or Schelling's dilemma) is a theory that explains why preemptive strikes occur between two groups, out of bilateral fear of an imminent attack. Without outside influences this situation will lead to a fear spiral (catch-22, vicious circle, Nash equilibrium) in which fear will lead to an arms race which in turn will lead to increasing fear. The Hobbesian trap can be explained in terms of game theory. Although cooperation would be the better outcome for both sides, mutual distrust leads to the adoption of strategies that have negative outcomes for both individual players and all players combined.[1] The theory has been used to explain outbreaks of conflicts and violence, spanning from individuals to states.[2]