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Essays on Cooperation and Reciprocity


Roy, Nilanjan (2013) Essays on Cooperation and Reciprocity. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/G536-ZW17.


This dissertation comprises three essays that use theory-based experiments to gain understanding of how cooperation and efficiency is affected by certain variables and institutions in different types of strategic interactions prevalent in our society.

Chapter 2 analyzes indefinite horizon two-person dynamic favor exchange games with private information in the laboratory. Using a novel experimental design to implement a dynamic game with a stochastic jump signal process, this study provides insights into a relation where cooperation is without immediate reciprocity. The primary finding is that favor provision under these conditions is considerably less than under the most efficient equilibrium. Also, individuals do not engage in exact score-keeping of net favors, rather, the time since the last favor was provided affects decisions to stop or restart providing favors.

Evidence from experiments in Cournot duopolies is presented in Chapter 3 where players indulge in a form of pre-play communication, termed as revision phase, before playing the one-shot game. During this revision phase individuals announce their tentative quantities, which are publicly observed, and revisions are costless. The payoffs are determined only by the quantities selected at the end under real time revision, whereas in a Poisson revision game, opportunities to revise arrive according to a synchronous Poisson process and the tentative quantity corresponding to the last revision opportunity is implemented. Contrasting results emerge. While real time revision of quantities results in choices that are more competitive than the static Cournot-Nash, significantly lower quantities are implemented in the Poisson revision games. This shows that partial cooperation can be sustained even when individuals interact only once.

Chapter 4 investigates the effect of varying the message space in a public good game with pre-play communication where player endowments are private information. We find that neither binary communication nor a larger finite numerical message space results in any efficiency gain relative to the situation without any form of communication. Payoffs and public good provision are higher only when participants are provided with a discussion period through unrestricted text chat.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Non-cooperative games, dynamic games, experimental economics, private information, pre-play communication
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Palfrey, Thomas R.
Thesis Committee:
  • Palfrey, Thomas R. (chair)
  • Bossaerts, Peter L.
  • Echenique, Federico
  • Plott, Charles R.
Defense Date:14 May 2013
Non-Caltech Author Email:nilu8603 (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation1158
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05232013-113856514
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7745
Deposited By: Nilanjan Roy
Deposited On:30 May 2013 23:29
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 00:01

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