Prisoner's dilemma. The prisoners' dilemma is a canonical example of a game analyzed in game theory that shows why two individuals might not cooperate, even if it appears that it is in their best interests to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher working at RAND in 1950. Albert W. GKL Homepage. Greg Mankiw's Blog. Federal Reserve Economic Data. Marginal Revolution.