The impact of personality on behavior in five Prisoner's Dilemma games

Christophe Boone*, Bert De Brabander, Arjen Van Witteloostuijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


There is a huge body of literature on both theoretical and experimental research of behavior in Prisoner's Dilemma and similar non-cooperative settings. Despite this impressive stock of knowledge, our understanding of the determinants of (non-)cooperative behavior remains limited. An important reason is that the economic approach tends to start from the untenable assumption of the homo anonymous. The purpose of the present study is to explore the potential gain of cross-fertilizing insights from economics and psychology by relaxing this assumption in a market setting (a Prisoner's Dilemma - duopoly pricing) game. More specifically, it is argued that economic agents differ as to their inclination toward cooperation. To analyze this issue, we conducted an experiment at the University Maastricht. We investigate the effect of personality on competitive versus cooperative behavior in five Prisoner's Dilemma games. Specifically, the paper deals with four personality traits: locus of control, self-monitoring, type-A behavior and sensation seeking. The experiment clearly shows that personality matters. By way of appraisal, the implications of our findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-377
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Non-cooperative behavior and Prisoner's Dilemma games
  • Personality traits


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