Which way to cooperate
Kaplan, Todd R.
Ruffle, Bradley J.
University of Exeter; Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
The Economic Journal
Cooperation in real-world dilemmas takes many forms. We introduce a class of two-player games that permits two distinct ways to cooperate in the repeated game. One way to cooperate is to play cutoff strategies, which rely solely on a player's private value to defection. The second cooperative strategy is to take turns, which relies on publicly available information. Our initial experiments reveal that almost all cooperators adopt cutoff strategies. However, follow-up experiments in which the distribution of values to defection are made more similar show that all cooperators now take turns. Our results offer insight into what form a cooperative norm will take: for mundane tasks or where individuals otherwise have similar payoffs, taking turns is likely; for difficult tasks that differentiate individuals by skill or by preferences, cutoff cooperation will emerge.
Draft dated June 2007 deposited in SSRN Working Paper series. Final version published in The Economic Journal by Wiley; available online at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
Volume 122, Issue 563, pages 1042–1068, September 2012