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Split or steal? Cooperative behavior when the stakes are large

van den Assem, Martijn J.; van Dolder, Dennie; Thaler, Richard H.

Authors

Martijn J. van den Assem m.j.vanden.assem@vu.nl

Dennie van Dolder dennie.vandolder@nottingham.ac.uk

Richard H. Thaler richard.thaler@chicagobooth.edu



Abstract

We examine cooperative behavior when large sums of money are at stake, using data from the TV game show “Golden Balls”. At the end of each episode, contestants play a variant on the classic Prisoner’s Dilemma for large and widely ranging stakes averaging over $20,000. Cooperation is surprisingly high for amounts that would normally be considered consequential but look tiny in their current context, what we call a “big peanuts” phenomenon. Utilizing the prior interaction among contestants, we find evidence that people have reciprocal preferences. Surprisingly, there is little support for conditional cooperation in our sample. That is, players do not seem to be more likely to cooperate if their opponent might be expected to cooperate. Further, we replicate earlier findings that males are less cooperative than females, but this gender effect reverses for older contestants because men become increasingly cooperative as their age increases.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 7, 2011
Journal Management Science
Print ISSN 0025-1909
Electronic ISSN 1526-5501
Publisher INFORMS
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 58
Issue 1
Institution Citation van den Assem, M. J., van Dolder, D., & Thaler, R. H. (2011). Split or steal? Cooperative behavior when the stakes are large. Management Science, 58(1), doi:10.1287/mnsc.1110.1413
DOI https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1110.1413
Keywords natural experiment, game show, prisoner's dilemma, cooperation, cooperative behaviour, social behaviour, social preferences, reciprocity, reciprocal behaviour, context effects, anchoring
Publisher URL http://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/mnsc.1110.1413
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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