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A Continuous Dilemma ∗

  • Friedman, Daniel
  • Oprea, Ryan

We study prisoner’s dilemmas played in continuous time with flow payoffs over 60 seconds. In most cases, the median rate of mutual cooperation rises to 90% or more. Control sessions with 8-time repeated matchings achieve less than half as much cooperation, and cooperation rates approach zero in one-shot control sessions. In follow-up sessions with a variable number of subperiods, cooperation rates increase nearly linearly as the grid size decreases and, with one-second subperiods, they approach the level seen in continuous sessions. Our data support a strand of theory that explains how the capacity to respond rapidly stabilizes cooperation and destabilizes defection in the prisoner’s dilemma.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz in its series Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt3475m3dq.

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Date of creation: 10 Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt3475m3dq
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  1. Bergin, James & MacLeod, W Bentley, 1993. "Continuous Time Repeated Games," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 34(1), pages 21-37, February.
  2. Pedro Dal Bó, 2002. "Cooperation Under the Shadow of the Future: Experimental Evidence from Infinitely Repeated Games," Working Papers 2002-20, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  3. Yoella Bereby-Meyer & Alvin E. Roth, 2006. "The Speed of Learning in Noisy Games: Partial Reinforcement and the Sustainability of Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1029-1042, September.
  4. Selten, Reinhard & Stoecker, Rolf, 1986. "End behavior in sequences of finite Prisoner's Dilemma supergames A learning theory approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 47-70, March.
  5. Pedro Dal Bo & Guillaume R. Frochette, 2011. "The Evolution of Cooperation in Infinitely Repeated Games: Experimental Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(1), pages 411-29, February.
  6. Esther Hauk & Rosemarie Nagel, 2000. "Choice of partners in multiple two-person prisoner's dilemma games: An experimental study," Economics Working Papers 487, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
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