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Cooperation and Signaling with Uncertain Social Preferences

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  • John Duffy
  • Felix Munoz-Garcia

Abstract

This paper investigates behavior in finitely repeated simultaneous and sequential-move prisoner's dilemma games when there is one-sided incomplete information and signaling about players' concerns for fairness, specifically, their preferences regarding "inequity aversion." In this environment, we show that only a pooling equilibrium can be sustained, in which a player type who is unconcerned about fairness initially cooperates in order to disguise himself as a player type who is concerned about fairness. This disguising strategy induces the uninformed player to cooperate in all periods of the repeated game, including the final period, at which point the player type who is unconcerned about fairness takes the opportunity to defect, i.e., he "backstabs" the uninformed player. Despite such last-minute defection, our results show that the introduction of incomplete information can actually result in a Pareto improvement under certain conditions. We connect the predictions of this "backstabbing" equilibrium with the frequently observed decline in cooperative behavior in the final period of finitely-repeated experimental games.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 491.

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Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision: May 2013
Handle: RePEc:pit:wpaper:491

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Keywords: Prisoner\'s Dilemma; Social Preferences; Inequity Aversion; Incomplete Information; Siganling; Information Transmission;

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  1. 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.
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  12. John Duffy & Felix Munoz-Garcia, 2009. "Patience or Fairness? Analyzing Social Preferences in Repeated Games," Working Papers 383, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised May 2009.
  13. Russell Cooper & Douglas V. DeJong & Thomas W. Ross, 1992. "Cooperation without Reputation: Experimental Evidence from Prisoner's Dilemma Games," Papers 0036, Boston University - Industry Studies Programme.
  14. von Siemens, Ferdinand A., 2009. "Bargaining under incomplete information, fairness, and the hold-up problem," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 486-494, August.
  15. Brandts, J. & Figueras, N., 1997. "An Exploration of Reputation Formation in Experimental Games," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 404.97, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  16. Bellemare, C. & Kroger, S. & Soest, A.H.O. van, 2008. "Measuring inequity aversion in a heterogeneous population using experimental decisions and subjective probabilities," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-376716, Tilburg University.
  17. Cho, In-Koo & Kreps, David M, 1987. "Signaling Games and Stable Equilibria," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(2), pages 179-221, May.
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