An Empirical Description of the Prisoner's Dilemma Game

by Lester B. Lave


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A discussion of recent experimental work with the prisoner's dilemma game, indicating low levels of cooperation and concluding that the Luce and Raiffa conjecture — that reasonable men will cooperate if the game is iterated — is unsubstantiated. This paper (1) presents the results and techniques used to obtain the higher levels of cooperation that will enable a case to be made for the Luce and Raiffa conjecture and (2) attempts to compare the results and to explain discrepancies. Differences in experimental technique appear to account for the contradictory results. The principal differences in technique are shown to be methodological, stemming from the dichotomous areas of interest between economics and psychology.

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