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Fostering cooperation through the enhancement of own vulnerability

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  • Kopányi-Peuker, Anita
  • Offerman, Theo
  • Sloof, Randolph

Abstract

We consider the possibility that cooperation in a prisoner's dilemma is fostered by people's voluntary enhancement of their own vulnerability. The vulnerability of a player determines the effectiveness of possible punishment by the other. In the “Gradual” mechanism, players may condition their incremental enhancements of their vulnerability on the other's choices. In the “Leap” mechanism, they unconditionally choose their vulnerability. In our experiment, subjects only learn to cooperate when either one of these mechanisms is allowed. In agreement with theory, subjects aiming for cooperation choose higher vulnerability levels in Gradual than in Leap, which maps into higher mutual cooperation levels.

Suggested Citation

  • Kopányi-Peuker, Anita & Offerman, Theo & Sloof, Randolph, 2017. "Fostering cooperation through the enhancement of own vulnerability," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 273-290.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:101:y:2017:i:c:p:273-290
    DOI: 10.1016/j.geb.2015.10.001
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    1. repec:eee:gamebe:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:253-281 is not listed on IDEAS

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    Keywords

    Prisoner's dilemma; Cooperation; Endogenous punishment;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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