Prior experience and patterning in a Prisoner's dilemma game

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Female college students first played a pseudo-prisoner's dilemma (PPD) game with the experimenter, who followed a fixed strategy. In the first experiment the experimenter's strategies for different groups of subjects were: (a) play tit-for-tat; (b) play randomly; (c) always cooperate; (d) always defect ('cooperation' and 'defection', defined as in an actual prisoner's dilemma game). Only the tit-for-tat group increased cooperation over trials; other groups decreased cooperation. After playing the PPD with the experimenter, subjects played an actual prisoner's dilemma (PD) game with each other. In the PD game, subjects began cooperating moderately but cooperation deteriorated regardless of what the experimenter's strategy had been in the earlier (PPD) game. In a second experiment, subjects again played a PPD game with the experimenter and then played a PD game with each other. Half played one trial at a time as in the first experiment while half played in patterns of four trials at a time. In the PD game, patterning of trials retarded the development of mutual defection regardless of previous experience. The cooperation-preserving effect of patterning of trials in this social task is compared with similar effects on individual tasks involving self-control and risk-aversion. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Publication Title

Journal of Behavioral Decision Making