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

  • John A. List

This study examines data drawn from the game show Friend or Foe?, which is similar to the classic prisoner%u2019s dilemma tale: partnerships are endogenously determined, players work together to earn money, after which, they play a one-shot prisoner%u2019s 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 %u201Cdistaste%u201D for older participants.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12097.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Publication status: published as List, John A. "Friend Or Foe? A Natural Experiment Of The Prisoner's Dilemma," Review of Economics and Statistics, 2006, v88(3,Aug), 463-471.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12097
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  1. Edward L. Glaeser & David I. Laibson & José A. Scheinkman & Christine L. Soutter, 2000. "Measuring Trust," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 811-846, August.
    • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Laibson, David I. & Scheinkman, Jose A. & Soutter, Christine L., 2000. "Measuring Trust," Scholarly Articles 4481497, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  2. Carpenter, Jeffrey & Verhoogen, Eric & Burks, Stephen, 2005. "The effect of stakes in distribution experiments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 86(3), pages 393-398, March.
  3. John A. List, 2006. "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(1), pages 1-37, February.
  4. Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher & Elena Tougareva, . "Do High Stakes and Competition Undermine Fairness? Evidence from Russia," IEW - Working Papers 120, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  5. Beetsma, Roel M W J & Schotman, Peter C, 2001. "Measuring Risk Attitudes in a Natural Experiment: Data from the Television Game Show Lingo," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 111(474), pages 821-48, October.
  6. John A. List, 2001. "Do Explicit Warnings Eliminate the Hypothetical Bias in Elicitation Procedures? Evidence from Field Auctions for Sportscards," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1498-1507, December.
  7. David Masclet & Charles Noussair & Steven Tucker & Marie Claire Villeval, 2001. "Monetary and Non-Monetary Punishment in the Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," Post-Print halshs-00151423, HAL.
  8. Fershtman, C. & Gneezy, U., 2000. "Discrimination in a Segmented Society: an Experimental Approach," Papers 2000-9, Tel Aviv.
  9. Phelps, Edmund S, 1972. "The Statistical Theory of Racism and Sexism," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 62(4), pages 659-61, September.
  10. Gertner, Robert, 1993. "Game Shows and Economic Behavior: Risk-Taking on "Card Sharks."," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(2), pages 507-21, May.
  11. John List, 2004. "The nature and extent of discrimination in the marketplace: Evidence from the field," Natural Field Experiments 00299, The Field Experiments Website.
  12. D. McFadden & J. Hausman, 1981. "Specification Tests for the Multinominal Logit Model," Working papers 292, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  13. John A. List & Robert P. Berrens & Alok K. Bohara & Joe Kerkvliet, 2004. "Examining the Role of Social Isolation on Stated Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 741-752, June.
  14. Joseph G. Altonji & Rebecca M. Blank, . "Race and Gender in the Labor Market," IPR working papers 98-18, Institute for Policy Resarch at Northwestern University.
  15. 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.
  16. Metrick, Andrew, 1995. "A Natural Experiment in "Jeopardy!"," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(1), pages 240-53, March.
  17. Judith Rich & Peter Riach, 2002. "Field experiments of discrimination in the market place," Natural Field Experiments 00328, The Field Experiments Website.
  18. Robert Slonim & Alvin E. Roth, 1998. "Learning in High Stakes Ultimatum Games: An Experiment in the Slovak Republic," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(3), pages 569-596, May.
  19. Cameron, Lisa A, 1999. "Raising the Stakes in the Ultimatum Game: Experimental Evidence from Indonesia," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(1), pages 47-59, January.
  20. Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Testing Theories of Discrimination: Evidence from "Weakest Link"," NBER Working Papers 9449, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  21. Andreoni, James & Vesterlund, Lise, 2001. "Which is the Fair Sex? Gender Differences in Altruism," Staff General Research Papers 1951, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  22. Berk, Jonathan B & Hughson, Eric & Vandezande, Kirk, 1996. "The Price Is Right, but Are the Bids? An Investigation of Rational Decision Theory," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(4), pages 954-70, September.
  23. Rege, Mari & Telle, Kjetil, 2004. "The impact of social approval and framing on cooperation in public good situations," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1625-1644, July.
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