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A Public Dilemma: Cooperation with Large Stakes and a Large Audience

  • Michele Belot,


  • V. Bhaskar


  • Jeroen van de Ven


We analyze a large-stakes prisoner's dilemma game played on a TV show. Players cooperate 40% of the time, demonstrating that social preferences are important; however, cooperation is significantly below the 50% threshold that is required for inequity aversion to sustain cooperation. Women cooperate significantly more than men, while players who have "earned" more of the stake cooperate less. A player's promise to cooperate is also a good predictor of his decision. Surprisingly, a player's probability of cooperation is unrelated to the opponent's characteristics or promise. We argue that inequity aversion alone cannot adequately explain these results; reputational concerns in a public setting might be more important.

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Paper provided by University of Essex, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion Papers with number 617.

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Date of creation: 08 Sep 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:esx:essedp:617
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