Public Choice

, Volume 106, Issue 1, pp 137–155

Cooperation in PD Games: Fear, Greed, and History of Play


  • T.K. Ahn
    • Department of Political ScienceIndiana University
  • Elinor Ostrom
    • Department of Political ScienceIndiana University
  • David Schmidt
    • Department of EconomicsIndiana University
  • Robert Shupp
    • Department of EconomicsIndiana University
  • James Walker
    • Department of EconomicsIndiana University

DOI: 10.1023/A:1005219123532

Cite this article as:
Ahn, T., Ostrom, E., Schmidt, D. et al. Public Choice (2001) 106: 137. doi:10.1023/A:1005219123532


The impact of the cardinal relationships amongpecuniary payoffs, and of social history and reputation, on thechoice of strategies in four one-shot Prisoner's Dilemma games isexperimentally examined. The results suggest that normalized payoffvalues linked to ``fear'' and ``greed'' are important as predictorsof behavior in the PD games. Success in coordinating on the payoffdominant equilibrium in previous plays of coordination games alsoincreases the probability of cooperative play in the PD games. Theeffect of past play is strongest when individuals are matchedrepeatedly with the same person in previous play, as contrasted tobeing matched randomly with another player.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001