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Social learning and voluntary cooperation among like-minded people

  • Simon Gächter

    ()

  • Christian Thöni

    ()

Many people contribute to public goods but stop doing so once they experience free riding. We test the hypothesis that groups whose members know that they are composed only of ‘like-minded’ cooperators are able to maintain a higher cooperation level than the most cooperative, randomly-composed groups. Our experiments confirm this hypothesis. We also predict that groups of ‘like-minded’ free riders do not cooperate. Yet, we find a high level of strategic cooperation that eventually collapses. Our results underscore the importance of group composition and social learning by heterogeneously motivated agents to understand the dynamics of cooperation and free riding.

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File URL: http://www1.vwa.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/dp2004/dp12_thoe.pdf
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Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen in its series University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2004 with number 2004-12.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2004:2004-12
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  1. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  2. Esther Hauk & Rosemarie Nagel, 2000. "Choice of partners in multiple two-person prisoner's dilemma games: An experimental study," Economics Working Papers 487, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  4. Gunnthorsdottir, Anna & Houser, Daniel & McCabe, Kevin, 2007. "Disposition, history and contributions in public goods experiments," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 304-315, February.
  5. Selten, Reinhard & Stoecker, Rolf, 1986. "End behavior in sequences of finite Prisoner's Dilemma supergames A learning theory approach," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 7(1), pages 47-70, March.
  6. Ghemawat, Pankaj, 1995. "Competitive Advantage and Internal Organization: Nucor Revisited," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(4), pages 685-717, Winter.
  7. Keser, Claudia & van Winden, Frans, 2000. " Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(1), pages 23-39, March.
  8. Ones, Umut & Putterman, Louis, 2007. "The ecology of collective action: A public goods and sanctions experiment with controlled group formation," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 495-521, April.
  9. Palfrey, Thomas R & Prisbrey, Jeffrey E, 1997. "Anomalous Behavior in Public Goods Experiments: How Much and Why?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 829-46, December.
  10. Claudia Keser & Frans A.A.M. van Winden, 2000. "Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-011/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  11. Claudia Keser & Frans A.A.M. van Winden, 2000. "Conditional Cooperation and Voluntary Contributions to Public Goods," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 00-011/1, Tinbergen Institute.
  12. Falk, Armin & Fischbacher, Urs, 2002. ""Crime" in the lab-detecting social interaction," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(4-5), pages 859-869, May.
  13. Ockenfels, Axel & Weimann, Joachim, 1999. "Types and patterns: an experimental East-West-German comparison of cooperation and solidarity," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 71(2), pages 275-287, February.
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