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Who cooperates in repeated games: The role of altruism, inequity aversion, and demographics

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  • Dreber, Anna
  • Fudenberg, Drew
  • Rand, David G.

Abstract

We explore the extent to which altruism, as measured by giving in a dictator game (DG), accounts for play in a noisy version of the repeated prisoner's dilemma. We find that DG giving is correlated with cooperation in the repeated game when no cooperative equilibria exist, but not when cooperation is an equilibrium. Furthermore, none of the commonly observed strategies are better explained by inequity aversion or efficiency concerns than money maximization. Various survey questions provide additional evidence for the relative unimportance of social preferences. We conclude that cooperation in repeated games is primarily motivated by long-term payoff maximization and that even though some subjects may have other goals, this does not seem to be the key determinant of how play varies with the parameters of the repeated game. In particular, altruism does not seem to be a major source of the observed diversity of play.

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  • Dreber, Anna & Fudenberg, Drew & Rand, David G., 2014. "Who cooperates in repeated games: The role of altruism, inequity aversion, and demographics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 41-55.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:98:y:2014:i:c:p:41-55
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.12.007
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cooperation; Prisoner's dilemma; Altruism; Social preferences; Dictator game; Inequity aversion; Survey;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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