Research Repository

Risk and Temptation: A Meta-Study on Social Dilemma Games

Mengel, F (2015) Risk and Temptation: A Meta-Study on Social Dilemma Games. Working Paper. SSRN. (Unpublished)


Download (549kB) | Preview


This paper reports the results of a meta-study of 89 prisoner's dilemma experiments comprising more than 3000 participants across 6 countries. We organize existing evidence and explain seemingly contradictory results in the existing literature by focusing on two dimensions of the dilemma: "risk'' (the percentage loss of unilaterally cooperating against a defector) and "temptation'' (the percentage gain of unilaterally defecting against a cooperator). We find in particular, that (i) risk best explains the variation in cooperation rates across random matching ("stranger'') and one-shot treatments, while (ii) temptation best explains the variation in repeated ("partner'') interactions, (iii) consistently with reputational models temptation is more effectively contained the longer the time horizon of the game, (iv) there is more cooperation in partner than stranger if and only if risk is high and temptation low and (v) women are more cooperative than the average man if risk is low and less cooperative if risk is high, but there are no gender differences on average. These results can be useful for discriminating between competing theories of why people cooperate. For policy making, it is important to understand which dimension of the dilemma (risk or temptation) is best targeted via interventions to yield improved cooperation.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Prisoner's dilemma; Cooperation; Meta Study; Experiments; Game Theory
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Economics, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2017 15:54
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2017 16:15

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item