IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Colorful economics: Seeing red in a prisoner's dilemma game


  • KAUFMANN, Wesley
  • BOONE, Christophe


The color red has been found to influence behavior and performance in a wide range of settings. We introduce the color red in a Prisoner’s Dilemma by performing a series of oneshot and repeated Bertrand duopoly laboratory games. We hypothesize a positive relationship between the color red and the number of competitive choices. Furthermore, we expect to see a habituation effect, implying that the impact of red on competitive behavior is more pronounced at the beginning of the experiment, to then fade away over time. Results indicate that the effect of the color red on cooperative behavior is more complex than hypothesized. We find no main effect for the color red, but we do reveal a significant habituation effect of the color red in the one-shot games. Contrary to our expectation, however, an escalation effect emerges in the repeated game, which suggests that the competition-enhancing effect of red is reinforced by receiving feedback about the other party’s choice.

Suggested Citation

  • KAUFMANN, Wesley & VAN WITTELOOSTUIJN, Arjen & BOONE, Christophe, 2009. "Colorful economics: Seeing red in a prisoner's dilemma game," Working Papers 2009017, University of Antwerp, Faculty of Applied Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ant:wpaper:2009017

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Burnham, Terence & McCabe, Kevin & Smith, Vernon L., 2000. "Friend-or-foe intentionality priming in an extensive form trust game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 57-73, September.
    2. Robert H. Frank & Thomas Gilovich & Dennis T. Regan, 1993. "Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 159-171, Spring.
    3. Andreoni, James & Petrie, Ragan, 2008. "Beauty, gender and stereotypes: Evidence from laboratory experiments," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-93, February.
    4. Scharlemann, Jorn P. W. & Eckel, Catherine C. & Kacelnik, Alex & Wilson, Rick K., 2001. "The value of a smile: Game theory with a human face," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 617-640, October.
    5. Bohnet, Iris & Frey, Bruno S., 1999. "The sound of silence in prisoner's dilemma and dictator games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 43-57, January.
    6. Ortmann, Andreas & Tichy, Lisa K., 1999. "Gender differences in the laboratory: evidence from prisoner's dilemma games," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 327-339, July.
    7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Color; Cooperation; Prisoners dilemma game;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C73 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Stochastic and Dynamic Games; Evolutionary Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ant:wpaper:2009017. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joeri Nys). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.