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It's My Turn ... Please, After You: An Experimental Study of Cooperation and Social Conventions

  • Todd Kaplan

    (University of Exeter)

  • Bradley Ruffle

    (Ben- Gurion University)

We introduce a class of two-player cooperation games where each player faces a binary decision, enter or exit. These games have a unique Nash equilibrium of entry. However, entry imposes a large enough negative externality on the other player such that the unique social optimum involves the player with the higher value to entry entering and the other player exiting. When the game is repeated and players' values to entry are private, cooperation admits the form of either taking turns entering or using a cutoff strategy and entering only for high private values of entry. Even with conditions that provide opportunities for unnoticed or non-punishable 'cheating', our empirical analysis including a simple strategy inference technique reveals that the Nash-equilibrium strategy is never the modal choice. In fact, most subjects employ the socially optimal symmetric cutoff strategy. These games capture the nature of cooperation in many economic and social situations such as bidding rings in auctions, competition for market share, labor supply decisions in the face of excess supply, queuing in line and courtship.

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File URL: http://econwpa.repec.org/eps/exp/papers/0410/0410001.pdf
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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Experimental with number 0410001.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: 06 Oct 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpex:0410001
Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 37
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Peter Cramton & Jesse Schwartz, 2002. "Collusive Bidding in the FCC Spectrum Auctions," Papers of Peter Cramton 02collude, University of Maryland, Department of Economics - Peter Cramton, revised 04 Dec 2002.
  2. James Andreoni & Rachel Croson, 2001. "Partners versus Strangers: Random Rematching in Public Goods Experiments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000132, David K. Levine.
  3. Timothy Cason & Tatsuyoshi Saijo & Takehiko Yamato, 2002. "Voluntary Participation and Spite in Public Good Provision Experiments: An International Comparison," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 133-153, October.
  4. Smith, Vernon L, 1985. "Experimental Economics: Reply," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 264-72, March.
  5. Rapoport, Amnon & Seale, Darryl A. & Winter, Eyal, 2002. "Coordination and Learning Behavior in Large Groups with Asymmetric Players," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 111-136, April.
  6. Ernst Fehr & Simon Gaechter, . "Cooperation and Punishment in Public Goods Experiments," IEW - Working Papers 010, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Paul Klemperer, 2002. "What Really Matters in Auction Design," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 16(1), pages 169-189, Winter.
  8. Jim Engle-Warnick & Bradley Ruffle, 2006. "The Strategies Behind Their Actions: A Method To Infer Repeated-Game Strategies And An Application To Buyer Behavior," Departmental Working Papers 2005-04, McGill University, Department of Economics.
  9. Arthur, W Brian, 1994. "Inductive Reasoning and Bounded Rationality," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 406-11, May.
  10. Chamberlain, Gary, 1980. "Analysis of Covariance with Qualitative Data," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 225-38, January.
  11. Eyal Winter & Amnon Rapoport & Darryl A. Seale, 2000. "An experimental study of coordination and learning in iterated two-market entry games," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 16(3), pages 661-687.
  12. McAfee, R Preston & McMillan, John, 1992. "Bidding Rings," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(3), pages 579-99, June.
    • McAfee, R. Preston & McMillan, John., 1990. "Bidding Rings," Working Papers 726, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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