Prisoner's Dilemma and Deterrence Activity

This activity complements the teacher’s lesson on deterrence and nuclear weapons during the Cold War. Students will learn the logic behind deterrence theory and Mutually Assured Destruction. In the advanced version, students will look closer at today’s U.S. deterrence strategy.

Terms Learned: game theory, Prisoner’s Dilemma, Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), deterrence, deterrence by force, deterrence by denial, deterrence by force, Nuclear Triad, extended deterrence

Secondary Terms: rational actor, second-strike capabilities

Life at Los Alamos


Students will read and listen to firsthand accounts from the different Manhattan Project sites and then write a fictionalized personal narrative about the experience of working on the Manhattan Project.