Fostering Cooperation through the Enhancement of Own Vulnerability

Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. 12-132/I

39 Pages Posted: 5 Dec 2012

See all articles by Anita Kopányi-Peuker

Anita Kopányi-Peuker

Radboud University Nijmegen - Department of Economics

Theo Offerman

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics & Econometrics (FEE)

Randolph Sloof

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics & Business (FEB); Tinbergen Institute

Date Written: November 27, 2012

Abstract

We consider the possibility that cooperation in a prisoner's dilemma is fostered by people's voluntarily enhancement of their own vulnerability. The vulnerability of a player determines the effectiveness of possible punishment by the other. In the 'Gradual' mechanism, players may condition their incremental enhancements of their vulnerability on the other's choices. In the 'Leap' mechanism, they unconditionally choose their vulnerability. In our experiment, subjects only learn to cooperate when either one of these mechanisms is allowed. In agreement with theory, subjects aiming for cooperation choose higher vulnerability levels in Gradual than in Leap, which maps into higher mutual cooperation levels.

Keywords: prisoner's dilemma, cooperation, endogenous punishment

JEL Classification: D03, D81, D83

Suggested Citation

Kopányi-Peuker, Anita and Offerman, Theo and Sloof, Randolph, Fostering Cooperation through the Enhancement of Own Vulnerability (November 27, 2012). Tinbergen Institute Discussion Paper No. 12-132/I, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2184714 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2184714

Anita Kopányi-Peuker (Contact Author)

Radboud University Nijmegen - Department of Economics ( email )

Nijmegen, 6500 HK
Netherlands

Theo Offerman

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics & Econometrics (FEE) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands
+31 20 525 4294 (Phone)
+31 20 525 5283 (Fax)

Randolph Sloof

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics & Business (FEB) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands
+31 20 525 5241 (Phone)
+31 20 525 4310 (Fax)

Tinbergen Institute ( email )

Gustav Mahlerplein 117
Amsterdam, 1082 MS
Netherlands

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