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The Sequential Prisoner's Dilemma: Evidence on Reciprocation

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  • Clark, Kenneth
  • Sefton, Martin

Abstract

We investigate how fairness concerns influence individual behaviour in social dilemmas. Using a Sequential Prisoner's Dilemma experiment we analyse the extent to which co-operation is conditional on first-mover co-operation, repetition, economic incentives, subject pool (United Kingdom vs. United States) and gender. We find the most important variable influencing co-operation is the first-mover's choice, supporting the argument that co-operative behaviour in social dilemmas reflects reciprocation rather than unconditional altruism. However, we also find that cooperation decreases with repetition, and reciprocation falls as its material cost rises.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:111:y:2001:i:468:p:51-68
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