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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)

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

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

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:2:p:720-49
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  1. John Duffy & Jack Ochs, 2004. "Cooperative Behavior and the Frequency of Social Interaction," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000000060, David K. Levine.
  2. Pedro Dal B�, 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.
  3. D. Fudenberg & E. Maskin, 2010. "Evolution and Cooperation in Noisy Repeated Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 546, David K. Levine.
  4. Drew Fudenberg & David K. Levine & Eric Maskin, 1994. "The Folk Theorem with Imperfect Public Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2058, David K. Levine.
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  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. Jim Engle-Warnick & Robert L. Slonim, 2001. "Inferring Repeated Game Strategies From Actions: Evidence From Trust Game Experiments," Economics Series Working Papers 2001-W13, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  18. 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.
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