Split or Steal? Cooperative Behavior When the Stakes Are Large

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

Abstract

We examine cooperative behavior when large sums of money are at stake, using data from the television 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-20
JournalManagement Science
Volume58
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012

Cite this

van den Assem, M.J.; van Dolder, Dennie; Thaler, R.H. / Split or Steal? Cooperative Behavior When the Stakes Are Large.

In: Management Science, Vol. 58, No. 1, 2012, p. 2-20.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

@article{0bbb48825e2a4aaf9c0dde0fd88c3822,
title = "Split or Steal? Cooperative Behavior When the Stakes Are Large",
abstract = "We examine cooperative behavior when large sums of money are at stake, using data from the television 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.",
author = "{van den Assem}, M.J. and {van Dolder}, Dennie and R.H. Thaler",
year = "2012",
doi = "10.1287/mnsc.1110.1413",
volume = "58",
pages = "2--20",
journal = "Management Science",
issn = "0025-1909",
publisher = "INFORMS Inst.for Operations Res.and the Management Sciences",
number = "1",

}

Split or Steal? Cooperative Behavior When the Stakes Are Large. / van den Assem, M.J.; van Dolder, Dennie; Thaler, R.H.

In: Management Science, Vol. 58, No. 1, 2012, p. 2-20.

Research output: Scientific - peer-reviewArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Split or Steal? Cooperative Behavior When the Stakes Are Large

AU - van den Assem,M.J.

AU - van Dolder,Dennie

AU - Thaler,R.H.

PY - 2012

Y1 - 2012

N2 - We examine cooperative behavior when large sums of money are at stake, using data from the television 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.

AB - We examine cooperative behavior when large sums of money are at stake, using data from the television 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.

U2 - 10.1287/mnsc.1110.1413

DO - 10.1287/mnsc.1110.1413

M3 - Article

VL - 58

SP - 2

EP - 20

JO - Management Science

T2 - Management Science

JF - Management Science

SN - 0025-1909

IS - 1

ER -