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Conditional cooperation and group dynamics: Experimental evidence from a sequential public goods game

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Author Info

  • Daniel Houser

    (George Mason University)

  • Robert Kurzban

    (University of Pennsylvania)

Abstract

We design a novel sequential public goods experiment to study reciprocity, or conditional cooperation. In contrast to the standard simultaneous contribution game, our sequential design provides direct evidence on how subjects condition their own contributions on the contributions of other subjects in the experiment. We develop a simple but useful behavioral-type classification procedure and use it to analyze the data from this design. Our results inform two fundamental hypotheses: (1) subjects’ types are persistent over an experiment; and (2) the types of subjects included in a group affects a group’s ability to sustain cooperation. These hypotheses are often assumed in the public goods literature, yet neither has been directly supported. We find support for both hypotheses. Moreover, we provide a simple summary statistic that, we show, predicts group cooperative dynamics remarkably well.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Experimental with number 0307001.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2003
Date of revision: 21 Jan 2005
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0307001

Note: Type of Document - pdf; prepared on ibm pc; to print on hp;
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Web page: http://128.118.178.162

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Keywords: conditional cooperation; public goods games; behavioral type classification; experiments;

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References

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  1. Anna Gunnthorsdottir & Daniel Houser & Kevin McCabe & Holly Ameden, 2004. "Disposition, History and Contributions in Public Goods Experiments," Experimental 0401001, EconWPA.
  2. repec:att:wimass:9309 is not listed on IDEAS
  3. Daniel Houser & Michael Keane & Kevin McCabe, 2002. "Behavior in a dynamic decision problem: An analysis of experimental evidence using a bayesian type classification algorithm," Experimental 0211001, EconWPA.
  4. Clark, Kenneth & Sefton, Martin, 2001. "The Sequential Prisoner's Dilemma: Evidence on Reciprocation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(468), pages 51-68, January.
  5. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
  6. Andreoni, James & McGuire, Martin C., 1993. "Identifying the free riders : A simple algorithm for determining who will contribute to a public good," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(3), pages 447-454, July.
  7. Claudia Keser & Frans A.A.M. van Winden, 2000. "Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-011/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  8. Houser, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2004. "How Do Behavioral Assumptions Affect Structural Inference? Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 22(1), pages 64-79, January.
  9. Herbert Gintis, 2000. "Strong Reciprocity and Human Sociality," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2000-02, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
  10. Rachel T. A. Croson, 2007. "Theories Of Commitment, Altruism And Reciprocity: Evidence From Linear Public Goods Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 199-216, 04.
  11. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  12. Congleton, Roger D. & Vanberg, Viktor J., 2001. "Help, harm or avoid? On the personal advantage of dispositions to cooperate and punish in multilateral PD games with exit," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 145-167, February.
  13. R. M. Isaac & J. M. Walker, 2010. "Group size effects in public goods provision: The voluntary contribution mechanism," Levine's Working Paper Archive 310, David K. Levine.
  14. Francesco Guala & Roberto Burlando, 2002. "Conditional Cooperation: new evidence from a public goods experiment," CEEL Working Papers 0210, Cognitive and Experimental Economics Laboratory, Department of Economics, University of Trento, Italia.
  15. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  16. Colin Camerer & Ernst Fehr, 2003. "Measuring social norms and preferences using experimental games: A guide for social scientists," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000501, David K. Levine.
  17. El-Gamal, Mahmoud A. & Grether, David M., 1995. "Are People Bayesian? Uncovering Behavioral Strategies," Working Papers 919, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  18. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  19. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
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