Experimental Economics

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 24–43 | Cite as

Revisiting strategic versus non-strategic cooperation

  • Ernesto ReubenEmail author
  • Sigrid Suetens
Open Access


We propose a novel experimental method that disentangles strategically- and non-strategically-motivated behavior. We apply it to an indefinitely-repeated prisoner’s dilemma game to observe simultaneously how the same individual behaves in situations with future interaction and in situations with no future interaction, while controlling for expectations. This method allows us to determine the extent to which strategically-cooperating individuals are responsible for the observed pattern of cooperation in experiments with repeated interaction, including the so-called endgame effect. Our results indicate that the most common motive for cooperation in repeated games is strategic.


Repeated games Cooperation Reputation building Strong reciprocity 

JEL Classification

C92 D01 D70 

Supplementary material

10683_2011_9286_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (27 kb)
(PDF 26.6 KB)


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia University and IZANew YorkUSA
  2. 2.CentER, TILEC, and TIBERTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands

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