prisoner's dilemma

(in game theory) a scenario in which the outcome of one person's decision is determined by the simultaneous decisions of the other participants, resulting in a bad outcome for all of them if all act in their own self-interest.

from a dilemma in which partners in crime must decide whether to confess, without knowing each other's decision Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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