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Endogenous Transfers in the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game: An Experimental Test Of Cooperation And Coordination

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  • Charness, Gary B
  • Qin, Cheng-Zhong

Abstract

We study experimentally a two-stage compensation mechanism for promoting cooperation in prisoner’s dilemma games. In stage 1, players simultaneously choose binding non-negative amounts to pay their counterparts for cooperating in a given prisoner’s dilemma game, and then play the prisoner’s dilemma game in stage 2 with knowledge of these amounts. For the asymmetric prisoner’s dilemma games we consider, all payment pairs consistent with mutual cooperation in subgame-perfect equilibrium transform these prisoner’s dilemma games into coordination games, with both mutual cooperation and mutual defection as Nash equilibria in the stage-2 game. We find considerable empirical support for the mechanism, as cooperation is much more common when these endogenous transfer payments are feasible. We identify patterns among transfer pairs that affect the likelihood of cooperation. Mutual cooperation is most likely when the payments are identical; it is also substantially more likely with payment pairs that bring the payoffs from mutual cooperation closer together than with payment pairs that cause them to diverge. There is substantial scope for this compensation mechanism to achieve beneficial social outcomes in commerce and in international affairs, and reason to be concerned about the ability of firms to design collusive agreements.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara in its series University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series with number qt9cm846c4.

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Date of creation: 06 Feb 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucsbec:qt9cm846c4

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Keywords: Prisoner’s dilemma; Endogenous transfer payments; Compensation mechanism; Coase theorem; Coordination games; Equilibrium selection;

References

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  1. Gary Charness & Matthew Rabin, 2003. "Understanding Social Preferences with Simple Tests," General Economics and Teaching 0303002, EconWPA.
  2. John Duffy & Jack Ochs, 2006. "Cooperative Behavior and the Frequency of Social Interaction," Working Papers 274, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised Jul 2008.
  3. James Andreoni & John H Miller, 1997. "Rational Cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoner's dilemma: experimental evidence," Levine's Working Paper Archive 670, David K. Levine.
  4. Cooper, R. & DeJong, D.W. & Ross, T.W., 1992. "Cooperation without Reputation: Experimental Evidence from Prisoner's Dilemma Games," Papers 36, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  5. Hoffman, Elizabeth & Spitzer, Matthew L, 1982. "The Coase Theorem: Some Experimental Tests," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(1), pages 73-98, April.
  6. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard H, 1990. "Experimental Tests of the Endowment Effect and the Coase Theorem," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1325-48, December.
  7. Andreoni,J. & Varian,H., 1999. "Pre-play contracting in the prisoners' dilemma," Working papers 18, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  8. Roth, Alvin E, 1988. "Laboratory Experimentation in Economics: A Methodological Overview," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 98(393), pages 974-1031, December.
  9. Harrison, Glenn W & McKee, Michael, 1985. "Experimental Evaluation of the Coase Theorem," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(3), pages 653-70, October.
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