No. B99-06

HOW STRATEGY SENSITIVE ARE CONTRIBUTIONS? A TEST OF SIX HYPOTHESES IN A TWO-PERSON DILEMMA GAME

Abstract

We test six hypotheses for contributions in dilemma games, a category that includes the prisoner's dilemma and public goods games. The hypotheses we consider are taken from a wide range of models, and each can explain some aspect of contributing behavior observed in previous studies. Our experiment focuses specifically on the strategic interdependence of contributing behavior, and manipulates the strategy space of a two-person dilemma game especially designed for the task. The hypothesis that contributors have non-linear preferences over own and the other playerĺs payoffs accurately matches the strategic pattern of contributing that we observe across treatments. None of the reasons for contributing advanced by the other hypotheses, whether alone or in additive combination, does so.

Gary E. Bolton and Elena Katok
Department of Management Science and Information Systems
303 Beam
Penn State University
University Park, PA 16802, USA
geb3@psu.edu, exk106@psu.edu

Jordi Brandts
Institut d'AnÓlisi Econ˛mica (CSIC)
Campus UAB
08193 Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain
brandts@cc.uab.es

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