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Unravelling conditional cooperation - Reciprocity, inequity aversion, and anchoring in public goods provision


  • Dominique Cappelletti

    () (University of Trento, CEEL, Italy)

  • Werner Güth

    () (Max Planck Institute of Economics, Strategic Interaction Group)

  • Matteo Ploner

    (University of Trento, CEEL, Italy)


Extensive research on human cooperation in social dilemmas has shown that individuals condition their behaviour upon the behaviour of others. However, few attempts have been made to disentangle the motivations backing conditional cooperation. We try to assess the relative importance of three motives - namely reciprocity, inequity aversion, and anchoring - in a non-linear voluntary contribution experiment. We find that, for those conditionally cooperating, both reciprocity and inequity aversion represent relevant motivational factors, but the impact of inequity aversion is stronger than that of reciprocity. In contrast, anchoring plays only a marginal role. Compared to what previously found in linear voluntary contribution games, overall we find much less conditional cooperation. In a control treatment with a less complex design, conditional cooperation is higher but still comparatively low.

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  • Dominique Cappelletti & Werner Güth & Matteo Ploner, 2011. "Unravelling conditional cooperation - Reciprocity, inequity aversion, and anchoring in public goods provision," Jena Economic Research Papers 2011-047, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena.
  • Handle: RePEc:jrp:jrpwrp:2011-047

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    More about this item


    Conditional cooperation; Experimental Economics; Public Goods; Social Preferences;

    JEL classification:

    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games


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