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Communication, Commitment, and Deception in Social Dilemmas: Experimental Evidence


  • Gabriele Camera
  • Marco Casari
  • Maria Bigoni


Social norms of cooperation are studied under several forms of communication. In an experiment, strangers could make public statements before playing a prisoner’s dilemma. The interaction was repeated indefinitely, which generated multiple equilibria. Communication could be used as a tool to either signal intentions to coordinate on Pareto-superior outcomes, to deceive others, or to credibly commit to actions. Some forms of communication did not promote the incidence of efficient Nash play, and sometimes reduced it. Surprisingly, cooperation suffered when subjects could publicly commit to actions.

Suggested Citation

  • Gabriele Camera & Marco Casari & Maria Bigoni, 2010. "Communication, Commitment, and Deception in Social Dilemmas: Experimental Evidence," Purdue University Economics Working Papers 1236, Purdue University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:pur:prukra:1236

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Duffy, John & Ochs, Jack, 2009. "Cooperative behavior and the frequency of social interaction," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(2), pages 785-812, July.
    2. Glenn Ellison, 1994. "Cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma with Anonymous Random Matching," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(3), pages 567-588.
    3. Michi Kandori, 2010. "Social Norms and Community Enforcement," Levine's Working Paper Archive 630, David K. Levine.
    4. van Damme, Eric, 1989. "Renegotiation-proof equilibria in repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 206-217, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fonseca, Miguel A. & Normann, Hans-Theo, 2012. "Explicit vs. tacit collusion—The impact of communication in oligopoly experiments," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(8), pages 1759-1772.
    2. Johne Bone & Michalis Drouvelis & Indrajit Ray, 2013. "Coordination in 2 x 2 Games by Following Recommendations from Correlated Equilibria," Discussion Papers 12-04r, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    3. John Duffy & Frank Heinemann, 2016. "Central Bank Reputation, Cheap Talk and Transparency as Substitutes for Commitment: Experimental Evidence," SFB 649 Discussion Papers SFB649DP2016-053, Sonderforschungsbereich 649, Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany.
    4. repec:gam:jgames:v:7:y:2016:i:1:p:4:d:62541 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Lachlan Deer & Ralph-C. Bayer, 2016. "Pledges of Commitment and Cooperation in Partnerships," Games, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(1), pages 1-16, January.
    6. Schütte, Miriam & Thoma, Carmen, 2014. "Promises and Image Concerns," Discussion Papers in Economics 20861, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    7. Aurora García-Gallego & Penélope Hernández-Rojas & Amalia Rodrigo-González, 2013. "Endogenous vs. Exogenous Transmission of Information: An Experiment," Working Papers 2013/06, Economics Department, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón (Spain).
    8. John Bone & Michalis Drouvelis & Indrajit Ray, 2012. "Following Recommendations to Avoid Coordination-Failure in 2 x 2 Games," Discussion Papers 12-04, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
    9. Waichman, Israel & Requate, Till & Siang, Ch’ng Kean, 2014. "Communication in Cournot competition: An experimental study," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 1-16.

    More about this item


    coordination; cheap-talk; deception; indefinitely repeated game; social norms;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • D80 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - General

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