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A Continuous Dilemma

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  • Daniel Friedman
  • Ryan Oprea

Abstract

We study prisoners' dilemmas played in continuous time with flow payoffs accumulated over 60 seconds. In most cases, the median rate of mutual cooperation is about 90 percent. Control sessions with repeated matchings over eight subperiods achieve less than half as much cooperation, and cooperation rates approach zero in one-shot sessions. In follow-up sessions with a variable number of subperiods, cooperation rates increase nearly linearly as the grid size decreases, and, with one-second subperiods, they approach continuous levels. Our data support a strand of theory that explains how capacity to respond rapidly stabilizes cooperation and destabilizes defection in the prisoner's dilemma. (JEL C72, C78, C91)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 337-63

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:1:p:337-63

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  1. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Folk Theorem in Repeated Games with Discounting or with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 533-54, May.
  2. Selten, Reinhard & Stoecker, Rolf, 1986. "End behavior in sequences of finite Prisoner's Dilemma supergames A learning theory approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 47-70, March.
  3. Simon, Leo K. & Stinchcombe, Maxwell B., 1987. "Extensive From Games in Continuous Time: Pure Strategies," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt03x115sh, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  4. Esther Hauk & Rosemarie Nagel, 2000. "Choice of partners in multiple two-person prisoner's dilemma games: An experimental study," Economics Working Papers 487, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  5. Jim Engle-Warnick & Robert Slonim, 2006. "Inferring repeated-game strategies from actions: evidence from trust game experiments," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 28(3), pages 603-632, 08.
  6. Aoyagi, Masaki & Fréchette, Guillaume, 2009. "Collusion as public monitoring becomes noisy: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1135-1165, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Maria Bigoni & Marco Casari & Andrzej Skrzypacz & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2011. "Time Horizon and Cooperation in Continuous Time," EIEF Working Papers Series 1116, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Jan 2013.
  2. Ryan Oprea & Keith Henwood & Daniel Friedman, 2010. "Separating the Hawks from the Doves: Evidence from Continuous Time Laboratory Games," CESifo Working Paper Series 3129, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Normann, Hans-Theo & Requate, Till & Waichman, Israel, 2013. "Do short-term laboratory experiments provide valid descriptions of long-term economic interactions? A study of Cournot markets," DICE Discussion Papers 100, Heinrich‐Heine‐Universität Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
  4. Dina Tasneem & Jim Engle-Warnick & Hassan Benchekroun, 2014. "An Experimental Study of a Common Property Renewable Resource Game in Continuous Time," CIRANO Working Papers 2014s-09, CIRANO.
  5. Di Guida, Sibilla & Marchiori, Davide & Erev, Ido, 2012. "Decisions among defaults and the effect of the option to do nothing," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 117(3), pages 790-793.
  6. Cary Deck & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2010. "Perfect and Imperfect Real-Time Monitoring in a Minimum-Effort Game," Working Papers 10-18, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.

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