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Preferences, cooperation, and Institutions

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Author Info

  • Thomas J. Miceli

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Alanson P. Minkler

    (University of Connecticut)

Abstract

We examine the link between social institutions and individuals' propensity to cooperate in a simple game theoretic framework. To begin, we transform the usual prisoner's dilemma game over material payoffs into one with utility payoffs by including non-material preferences. By introducing a continuum of types, three distinct behaviors (not otherwise imposed) emerge: 1) pure defection, (2) pure cooperation, and (3) behavior contingent on expected partner behavior. All three behaviors emerge in equilibrium and in a static analysis. As such it represents a synthesis of previous, disparate efforts. Exogenous social policy can affect cooperation rates by changing the size of the three groups exhibiting these behaviors if preferences are endogenous. Repeated play results in "switching" behavior, where formerly cooperative players now defect (i.e., become cynical), and former defectors cooperate (reform). This behavior suggests further roles for institutions. Finally, continuing the effort to analyze community, we add the possibility of interaction with a new "low cost" player who, it is known, does not make social investments.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Connecticut, Department of Economics in its series Working papers with number 1997-06.

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Length: 24 pages
Date of creation: Oct 1997
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:1997-06

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Postal: University of Connecticut 341 Mansfield Road, Unit 1063 Storrs, CT 06269-1063
Phone: (860) 486-4889
Fax: (860) 486-4463
Web page: http://www.econ.uconn.edu/
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Related research

Keywords: Non-material; endogenous preferences; cooperation; institutions.;

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References

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  16. Sethi, Rajiv, 1996. "Evolutionary stability and social norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 113-140, January.
  17. Arthur T. Denzau & Douglass C. North, 1993. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Economic History 9309003, EconWPA.
  18. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
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Cited by:
  1. Rustam Romaniuc, 2012. "Judicial Dissent under Externalities and Incomplete Information," Czech Economic Review, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, vol. 6(3), pages 209-224, October.

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