‘I’m Just a Soul Whose Intentions Are Good’: The Role of Communication in Noisy Repeated Games

56 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2016 Last revised: 3 Mar 2017

See all articles by Antonio Arechar

Antonio Arechar

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Anna Dreber

Stockholm School of Economics - Department of Economics

Drew Fudenberg

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: March 2, 2017

Abstract

We let participants indicate their intended action in a repeated game experiment where actions are implemented with errors. Even though communication is cheap talk, we find that the majority of messages were honest (although the majority of participants lied at least occasionally). As a result, communication has a positive effect on cooperation when the payoff matrix makes the returns to cooperation high; when the payoff matrix gives a lower return to cooperation, communication reduces overall cooperation. These results suggest that cheap talk communication can promote cooperation in repeated games, but only when there is already a self-interested motivation to cooperate.

Keywords: repeated games, prisoner's dilemma, experimental economics, economic games, communication

JEL Classification: C70, C90, C91

Suggested Citation

Arechar, Antonio and Dreber, Anna and Fudenberg, Drew and Rand, David G., ‘I’m Just a Soul Whose Intentions Are Good’: The Role of Communication in Noisy Repeated Games (March 2, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2748890 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2748890

Antonio Arechar

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

Drew Fudenberg (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

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

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) ( email )

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

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