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Friend or Foe? A Natural Experiment of the Prisoner's Dilemma

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  • John List

Abstract

This study examines data drawn from the game show Friend or Foe?, which is similar to the classic prisoner's dilemma tale: partnerships are endogenously determined, players work together to earn money, after which, they play a one-shot prisoner's dilemma game over large stakes: varying from $200 to (potentially) more than $22,000. If one were to conduct such an experiment in the laboratory, the cost to gather the data would be well over $350,000. The data reveal several interesting insights; perhaps most provocatively, they suggest that even though the game is played in front of an audience of millions of viewers, there is some evidence consistent with a model of discrimination. The observed patterns of social discrimination are unanticipated, however. For example, there is evidence consistent with the notion that certain populations have a general "distaste" for older participants.

Suggested Citation

  • John List, 2006. "Friend or Foe? A Natural Experiment of the Prisoner's Dilemma," Natural Field Experiments 00483, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00483
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games

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