Cooperation, Decision Time, and Culture: Online Experiments with American and Indian Participants

PLOS ONE 12(2): e0171252. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171252

10 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2016 Last revised: 9 Mar 2017

See all articles by Akihiro Nishi

Akihiro Nishi

Yale University

Nicholas A. Christakis

Yale University, Law School, Students

David G. Rand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Date Written: March 8, 2017

Abstract

Two separate bodies of work have examined whether culture affects cooperation in economic games and whether cooperative or non-cooperative decisions occur more quickly. Here, we connect this work by exploring the relationship between decision time and cooperation in American versus Indian subjects. We use a series of dynamic social network experiments in which subjects play a repeated public goods game: 80 sessions for a total of 1,462 subjects (1,059 from the United States, 337 from India, and 66 from other countries) making 13,560 decisions. In the first round, where subjects do not know if connecting neighbors are cooperative, American subjects are highly cooperative and decide faster when cooperating than when defecting, whereas a majority of Indian subjects defect and Indians decide faster when defecting than when cooperating. The same is true in later rounds where neighbors were previously cooperative (a cooperative environment) although the Indian decision time difference does not reach significance. Conversely, when connecting neighbors were previously not cooperative (a non-cooperative environment), a large majority of both American and Indian subjects defect, and defection is faster than cooperation among both sets of subjects. Our results imply the cultural background of subjects in their real life affects the speed of cooperation decision-making differentially in online social environments. 

Keywords: Decision time, Cooperation, Social norms, Culture, United States, India

JEL Classification: C7, C91, C70, C72, C79, C90, C92, D03, D63, D64, D69, D70, D79, D83, H41

Suggested Citation

Nishi, Akihiro and Christakis, Nicholas A. and Rand, David G., Cooperation, Decision Time, and Culture: Online Experiments with American and Indian Participants (March 8, 2017). PLOS ONE 12(2): e0171252. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171252. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2801877 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2801877

Akihiro Nishi (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Nicholas A. Christakis

Yale University, Law School, Students ( email )

127 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
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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