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Context effects in games: Local versus global sequential effects on choice in the prisoner's dilemma game

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  • Ivo Vlaev
  • Nick Chater

Abstract

We report an experiment exploring sequential context effects on strategy choices in one-shot Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) game. Rapoport and Chammah (1965) have shown that some PDs are cooperative and lead to high cooperation rate, whereas others are uncooperative. Participants played very cooperative and very uncooperative games, against anonymous partners. The order in which these games were played affected their cooperation rate by producing perceptual contrast, which appeared only between the trials, but not between two separate sequences of games. These findings suggest that people may not have stable perceptions of absolute cooperativeness. Instead, they judge the cooperativeness of each fresh game only in relation to the previous game. The observed effects suggest that the principles underlying judgments about highly abstract magnitudes such as cooperativeness may be similar to principles governing the perception of sensory magnitudes.

Suggested Citation

  • Ivo Vlaev & Nick Chater, 2007. "Context effects in games: Local versus global sequential effects on choice in the prisoner's dilemma game," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 2, pages 380-389, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:jdm:journl:v:2:y:2007:i::p:380-389
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    6. Rapoport, Amnon & Stein, William E. & Parco, James E. & Nicholas, Thomas E., 2003. "Equilibrium play and adaptive learning in a three-person centipede game," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 239-265, May.
    7. Shane Frederick & George Loewenstein & Ted O'Donoghue, 2002. "Time Discounting and Time Preference: A Critical Review," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 351-401, June.
    8. George Loewenstein & Drazen Prelec, 1992. "Anomalies in Intertemporal Choice: Evidence and an Interpretation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 573-597.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jason W. Beckstead, 2008. "Modeling sequential context effects in judgment analysis: A time series approach," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 3(7), pages 570-584, October.
    2. Astrid Matthey & Tobias Regner, 2013. "On the independence of history: experience spill-overs between experiments," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(3), pages 403-419, September.

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