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Effects of Representative Status and Decision Style on Cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma MPD

Hermann, Margaret G.; Kogan, Nathan
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Institute of Mental Health, Cognitive Style, Decision Making, Group Dynamics, Multistage Prisoner's Dilemma (MPD), Psychological Studies


Level of cooperation in the Prisoner's Dilemma (PD) is examined for opponents acting in their own behalf or as members of a reference group consisting of strangers or friends. This subject classification interacted with trials, representatives of friend groups manifesting a consistently high level of cooperation throughout, and representatives of stranger groups and individuals showing progressive increases from moderate to high levels of cooperation over trials. After 30 trials, subjects were given positive or negative feedback (indicating that they were doing better or worse than their respective reference groups). On subsequent trials, positive feedback yielded no strategy change for the three types of subjects. Negative feedback produced strategy changes for individuals and stranger groups, but not for friend groups. A number of personality variables presumed relevant to decision style in the PD were examined. On both orientation to the PD--intention to be cooperative or competitive and expectation of cooperation or competition from one's opponent--and actual level of cooperation and competition in the PD, significant personality effects were obtained. Of particular interest in the latter case is the evidence that the influence or personality is manifested exclusively at the level of the dyad. It is concluded that the impact of personality on the PD can most profitably be studied with a dyadic focus. (Author) (34pp.)

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