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Theory of Mind Predicts Cooperative Behavior

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  • Gregory DeAngelo

    (West Virginia University, Department of Economics)

  • Bryan McCannon

    (West Virginia University, Department of Economics)

Abstract

Explanations for cooperation in Prisoner’s Dilemma games (PD) have generated significant interest. While institutional explanations, such as the role of repeated interactions and communication, have offered considerable explanatory ability, a psychological measure of Theory of the Mind (ToM) – Reading the Mind in the Eyes – of an individual’s ability to process social and emotional cognition offers new insights. Using this measure, we examine how ToM explains (un)cooperative behavior in a standard PD game. We find that subjects who have higher ToM are less cooperative in PD games and extract higher payoffs.

Suggested Citation

  • Gregory DeAngelo & Bryan McCannon, 2016. "Theory of Mind Predicts Cooperative Behavior," Working Papers 16-16, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
  • Handle: RePEc:wvu:wpaper:16-16
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
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    5. Kagel, John & McGee, Peter, 2014. "Personality and cooperation in finitely repeated prisoner’s dilemma games," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 124(2), pages 274-277.
    6. Topi Miettinen & Sigrid Suetens, 2008. "Communication and Guilt in a Prisoner's Dilemma," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 52(6), pages 945-960, December.
    7. Dreber, Anna & Fudenberg, Drew & Rand, David G., 2014. "Who cooperates in repeated games: The role of altruism, inequity aversion, and demographics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 41-55.
    8. Dal Bó, Pedro & Fréchette, Guillaume R., 2013. "Strategy choice in the infinitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-311, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
    9. Sally, David & Hill, Elisabeth, 2006. "The development of interpersonal strategy: Autism, theory-of-mind, cooperation and fairness," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 73-97, February.
    10. Boone, Christophe & De Brabander, Bert & van Witteloostuijn, Arjen, 1999. "The impact of personality on behavior in five Prisoner's Dilemma games," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 343-377, June.
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    Keywords

    Cooperation; Experiment; Prisoner’s Dilemma; Reading Mind in the Eyes; Theory of the Mind;

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