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Conditional cooperation in network public goods experiments

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  • Boosey, Luke A.

Abstract

This study investigates the pattern of contribution decisions in a network public goods game. In this game, each player’s payoff depends only on his own contribution and the contributions of his immediate neighbors in a circle network. As in the standard public goods game, we find substantial heterogeneity in behavior across subjects, including both unconditional free-riding and full cooperation, as well as conditional cooperation. We first examine the impact of different information conditions on conditional cooperation. At the aggregate level, we find that players who observe average payoff information about others contribute significantly less than those who observe average contribution information. We then investigate the extent to which conditional cooperators facilitate the spread of cooperation and free-riding behavior across the network. In groups with a single free-rider type, we show that individual contributions decay faster for players who are closer in the network to the free rider. On the other hand, in groups with a single unconditional full contributor type, players do not respond by converging to full cooperation. Instead, we find that proximity to the unconditional full contributor seems only to mitigate (or delay) the typical decline in contributions over time. These contrasting effects are consistent with the widespread claim that conditional cooperation is imperfect, or exhibits a self-serving bias.

Suggested Citation

  • Boosey, Luke A., 2017. "Conditional cooperation in network public goods experiments," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 108-116.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:108-116
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2017.01.001
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    2. Zhang, Yang & He, Longfei, 2021. "Theory and experiments on network games of public goods: inequality aversion and welfare preference," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 190(C), pages 326-347.
    3. Philip Solimine & Luke Boosey, 2021. "Resource sharing on endogenous networks," Papers 2109.14204, arXiv.org, revised Jan 2022.
    4. Jasmina Arifovic & Giuseppe Danese, 2018. "Homophily and Social Norms in Experimental Network Formation Games," Games, MDPI, vol. 9(4), pages 1-22, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Network public goods game; Voluntary contributions; Conditional cooperation; Self-serving bias;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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