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Cooperation in viscous populations--Experimental evidence

  • Grimm, Veronika
  • Mengel, Friederike

We experimentally investigate the effect of population viscosity (an increased probability to interact with others of one's type or group) on cooperation in a standard prisoner's dilemma environment. Subjects can repeatedly choose between two groups that differ in the defector gain in the associated prisoner's dilemma. Choosing into the group with the smaller defector-gain can signal one's willingness to cooperate. We find that viscosity produces an endogenous sorting of cooperators and defectors and persistently high rates of cooperation. Higher viscosity leads to a sharp increase in overall cooperation rates and in addition positively affects the subjects' preferences for cooperation.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

Volume (Year): 66 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (May)
Pages: 202-220

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Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:66:y:2009:i:1:p:202-220
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

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  9. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  10. Mengel, Friederike, 2008. "Matching structure and the cultural transmission of social norms," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(3-4), pages 608-623, September.
  11. Bohnet, Iris & Kübler, Dorothea, 2000. "Compensating the cooperators: Is sorting in the prisoner's dilemma possible?," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2001,2, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  12. Roger B. Myerson, 1990. "Viscous Population Equilibria," Discussion Papers 906, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
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