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Harm on an Innocent Outsider as a Lubricant of Cooperation – An Experiment

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  • Christoph Engel

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

  • Lilia Zhurakhovska

    ()
    (Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Bonn)

Abstract

If two players of a simultaneous symmetric one-shot prisoner’s dilemma hold standard preferences, the fact that choosing the cooperative move imposes harm on a passive outsider is immaterial. Yet if participants hold social preferences, one might think that they are reticent to impose harm on the outsider. This is not what we find, however severe the externality. A within-subjects measure of reticence to impose harm does not explain cooperation. But the externality makes participants more pessimistic. However conditional on their beliefs participants are more, not less cooperative if cooperation entails harm on an outsider, again however severe the externality.

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Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods in its series Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods with number 2012_02.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Handle: RePEc:mpg:wpaper:2012_02

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Keywords: externality; prisoner’s dilemma; Modified Dictator Game; Beliefs;

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Cited by:
  1. James Bland & Nikos Nikiforakis, 2013. "Tacit Coordination in Games with Third-Party Externalities," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_19, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

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