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Which Way to Cooperate

  • Todd R. Kaplan
  • Bradley J. Ruffle

Cooperation in real-world dilemmas takes many forms. We introduce a class of two-player games that permits two distinct ways to cooperate in the repeated game. One way to cooperate is to play cutoff strategies, which rely solely on a player's private value to defection. The second cooperative strategy is to take turns, which relies on publicly available information. Our initial experiments reveal that almost all cooperators adopt cutoff strategies. However, follow-up experiments in which the distribution of values to defection are made more similar show that all cooperators now take turns. Our results offer insight into what form a cooperative norm will take: for mundane tasks or where individuals otherwise have similar payoffs, taking turns is likely; for difficult tasks that differentiate individuals by skill or by preferences, cutoff cooperation will emerge.

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Article provided by Royal Economic Society in its journal The Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 122 (2012)
Issue (Month): 563 (09)
Pages: 1042-1068

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Handle: RePEc:ecj:econjl:v:122:y:2012:i:563:p:1042-1068
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