It's the Thought That Counts: The Role of Intentions in Noisy Repeated Games

47 Pages Posted: 3 May 2013 Last revised: 7 May 2015

See all articles by David G. Rand

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Drew Fudenberg

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Anna Dreber

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics

Date Written: May 5, 2015

Abstract

We examine cooperation in repeated interactions where intended actions are implemented with noise but intentions are perfectly observable. Observable intentions lead to more cooperation compared to control games where intentions are unobserved, allowing subjects to reach similar cooperation levels as in games without noise. Most subjects condition exclusively on intentions, and use simpler, lower-memory strategies compared to games where intentions are unobservable. When the returns to cooperation are high, some subjects are tolerant, using good outcomes to forgive attempted defections; when the returns to cooperation are low, some subjects are punitive, using bad outcomes to punish accidental defections.

Keywords: cooperation, reciprocal altruism, infinitely repeated games, intentions, noise, public monitoring

Suggested Citation

Rand, David G. and Fudenberg, Drew and Dreber, Anna, It's the Thought That Counts: The Role of Intentions in Noisy Repeated Games (May 5, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2259407 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2259407

David G. Rand (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.daverand.org

Drew Fudenberg

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

77 Massachusetts Avenue
50 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139-4307
United States

Anna Dreber

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 6501
Sveavagen 65
S-113 83 Stockholm
Sweden

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