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Disposition, History and Contributions in Public Goods Experiments

  • Anna Gunnthorsdottir

    (Australian Graduate School of Management)

  • Daniel Houser

    (George Mason University)

  • Kevin McCabe

    (George Mason University)

  • Holly Ameden

    (Berkeley)

Private incentives to invest in a public good are modeled as self- interested reciprocity where individuals use reputational scoring rules to determine their optimal level of investment. The model predicts that the disposition of any subject to cooperate is revealed by their first period investment in a voluntary contribution experiment, and that grouping cooperative subjects together will improve, and in some circumstances sustain, their private investment in the public good. Actual investment behavior is then studied with laboratory experiments that compare the contributions of subjects randomly reassigned into groups to contributions under a mechanism that sorts subjects into groups based on their individual investment decisions. The sorting mechanism helps to keep subjects with cooperative dispositions together and leads to statistically significant increases, relative to the random matching condition, in cooperators’ investments in the public good.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Experimental with number 0401001.

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Date of creation: 09 Jan 2004
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Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0401001
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  1. Ehrhart, Karl-Martin & Keser, Claudia, 1999. "Mobility and cooperation: on the run," Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications 99-69, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim;Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim.
  2. Rachel T. A. Croson, 2007. "Theories Of Commitment, Altruism And Reciprocity: Evidence From Linear Public Goods Games," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(2), pages 199-216, 04.
  3. Houser, Daniel & Winter, Joachim, 2004. "How Do Behavioral Assumptions Affect Structural Inference? Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 22(1), pages 64-79, January.
  4. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
  5. Matthew Rabin., 1992. "Incorporating Fairness into Game Theory and Economics," Economics Working Papers 92-199, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Why free ride? : Strategies and learning in public goods experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 291-304, December.
  7. Umut Ones & Louis Putterman, 2004. "The Ecology of Collective Action: A Public Goods and Sanctions Experiment with Controlled Group Formation," Working Papers 2004-01, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. Isaac, R Mark & Walker, James M, 1988. "Group Size Effects in Public Goods Provision: The Voluntary Contributions Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 103(1), pages 179-99, February.
  9. Coase, R H, 1974. "The Lighthouse in Economics," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 17(2), pages 357-76, October.
  10. repec:att:wimass:9309 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Karl-Martin Ehrhart & Claudia Keser, 1999. "Mobility and Cooperation: On the Run," CIRANO Working Papers 99s-24, CIRANO.
  12. Berg Joyce & Dickhaut John & McCabe Kevin, 1995. "Trust, Reciprocity, and Social History," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 122-142, July.
  13. Bohnet, Iris & Kübler, Dorothea, 2000. "Compensating the cooperators: Is sorting in the prisoner's dilemma possible?," SFB 373 Discussion Papers 2001,2, Humboldt University of Berlin, Interdisciplinary Research Project 373: Quantification and Simulation of Economic Processes.
  14. James Andreoni & Ragan Petrie, 2003. "Public Goods Experiments Without Confidentiality: A Glimpse Into Fund-Raising," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000520, David K. Levine.
  15. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
  16. Sugden, Robert, 1984. "Reciprocity: The Supply of Public Goods through Voluntary Contributions," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 94(376), pages 772-87, December.
  17. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
  18. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
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