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Altruism, Partner Choice, and Fixed-Cost Signalling

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  • Andriy Zapechelnyuk
  • Ro�'i Zultan

Abstract

We consider a multitype population model with unobservable types, in which players are engaged in the `mutual help' game: each player can increase her partner's fitness at a cost to oneself. All individuals prefer free riding to cooperation, but some of them, helpers, can establish reciprocal cooperation in a long-term relationship. Such heterogeneity can drive cooperation through a partner selection mechanism under which helpers choose to interact with one another and shun non-helpers. However, in contrast to the existing literature, we assume that each individual is matched with an anonymous partner, and therefore, stable cooperation cannot be achieved by partner selection per se. We suggest that helpers can signal their type to one another in order to establish long-term relationships, and we show that a reliable signal always exists. Moreover, due to the difference in future benefits of a long-term relationship for helpers and non-helpers, the signal need not be a handicap, in the sense that the cost of the signal need not be correlated with type.

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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 122247000000002411.

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Date of creation: 12 Oct 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:122247000000002411

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  1. Robert J. Aumann & Lloyd S. Shapley, 2013. "Long Term Competition -- A Game-Theoretic Analysis," Annals of Economics and Finance, Society for AEF, vol. 14(2), pages 627-640, November.
  2. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey S., 2000. "Cheap Talk and Burned Money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 91(1), pages 1-16, March.
  3. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-29, March-Apr.
  4. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1979. "Equilibrium in supergames with the overtaking criterion," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 1-9, August.
  5. Eric Alden Smith & Samuel Bowles & Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Costly Signaling and Cooperation," Working Papers 00-12-071, Santa Fe Institute.
  6. Paul R. Milgrom & John Roberts, 1984. "Price and Advertising Signals of Product Quality," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 709, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  7. 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.
  8. Hirshlifer, David & Rassmusen, Eric, 1989. "Cooperation in a repeated prisoners' dilemma with ostracism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 12(1), pages 87-106, August.
  9. Friedman, James W, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(113), pages 1-12, January.
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