Cooperation without reputation: Experimental evidence from prisoner's dilemma games

Russell Cooper, Douglas V. Dejong, Robert Forsythe, Thomas W. Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

250 Scopus citations


This paper investigates cooperative play in prisoner's dilemma games by designing an experiment to evaluate the ability of two leading theories of observed cooperation: reputation building and altruism. We analyze both one-shot and finitely repeated games to gauge the importance of these theories. We conclude that neither altruism nor reputation building alone can explain our observations. The reputation model is inconsistent with play in both one-shots and finitely repeated games while the model with altruism is unable to explain observed play in the finitely repeated games. Journal of Economic Literature Classification Numbers: C72, C92.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-218
Number of pages32
JournalGames and Economic Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Finance
  • Economics and Econometrics


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