IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Slow to Anger and Fast to Forgive: Cooperation in an Uncertain World

  • Drew Fudenberg
  • David G. Rand
  • Anna Dreber

We study the experimental play of the repeated prisoner's dilemma when intended actions are implemented with noise. In treatments where cooperation is an equilibrium, subjects cooperate substantially more than in treatments without cooperative equilibria. In all settings there was considerable strategic diversity, indicating that subjects had not fully learned the distribution of play. Furthermore, cooperative strategies yielded higher payoffs than uncooperative strategies in the treatments with cooperative equilibria. In these treatments successful strategies were "lenient" in not retaliating for the first defection, and many were "forgiving" in trying to return to cooperation after inflicting a punishment. (JEL C72, C73, D81)

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to AEA members and institutional subscribers.

File URL:
File Function: dataset accompanying article
Download Restriction: no

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 720-49

in new window

Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:2:p:720-49
Contact details of provider: Web page:

More information through EDIRC

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Aoyagi, Masaki & Fréchette, Guillaume, 2009. "Collusion as public monitoring becomes noisy: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1135-1165, May.
  2. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K., 1991. "Self-Confirming Equilibrium ," Working papers 581, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  3. Edward J Green & Robert H Porter, 1997. "Noncooperative Collusion Under Imperfect Price Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1147, David K. Levine.
  4. Spagnolo, Giancarlo & Blonski, Matthias, 2001. "Prisoners' Other Dilemma," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 437, Stockholm School of Economics, revised 20 Feb 2001.
  5. Fudenberg, D. & Levine, D.K. & Maskin, E., 1989. "The Folk Theorem With Inperfect Public Information," Working papers 523, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  6. D. Fudenberg & E. Maskin, 2010. "Evolution and Cooperation in Noisy Repeated Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 546, David K. Levine.
  7. Binmore, Kenneth G. & Samuelson, Larry, 1992. "Evolutionary stability in repeated games played by finite automata," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 57(2), pages 278-305, August.
  8. Duffy, John & Ochs, Jack, 2009. "Cooperative behavior and the frequency of social interaction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 785-812, July.
  9. Jim Engle-Warnick & Robert L. Slonim, 2001. "Inferring Repeated Game Strategies From Actions: Evidence From Trust Game Experiments," Economics Papers 2001-W13, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  10. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  11. Pedro Dal Bo & Guillaume R. Frochette, 2011. "The Evolution of Cooperation in Infinitely Repeated Games: Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 411-29, February.
  12. Feinberg, Robert M & Husted, Thomas A, 1993. "An Experimental Test of Discount-Rate Effects on Collusive Behaviour in Duopoly Markets," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 41(2), pages 153-60, June.
  13. James W. Friedman, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 1-12.
  14. Pedro Dal Bó, 2005. "Cooperation under the Shadow of the Future: Experimental Evidence from Infinitely Repeated Games," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1591-1604, December.
  15. Gabriele Camera & Marco Casari & Maria Bigoni, 2010. "Cooperative Strategies in Groups of Strangers: An Experiment," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1237, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  16. 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.
  17. Matthias Blonski & Peter Ockenfels & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2011. "Equilibrium Selection in the Repeated Prisoner's Dilemma: Axiomatic Approach and Experimental Evidence," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 164-92, August.
  18. Imhof, Lorens & Nowak, Martin & Fudenberg, Drew, 2007. "Tit-for-Tat or Win-Stay, Lose-Shift?," Scholarly Articles 3200671, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  19. Gary Chamberlain, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 47(1), pages 225-238.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is featured on the following reading lists or Wikipedia pages:

  1. Slow to Anger and Fast to Forgive: Cooperation in an Uncertain World (AER 2012) in ReplicationWiki

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:2:p:720-49. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros)

or (Michael P. Albert)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.