Split or steal? Cooperative behavior when the stakes are large

van den Assem, Martijn J. and van Dolder, Dennie and Thaler, Richard H. (2011) Split or steal? Cooperative behavior when the stakes are large. Management Science, 58 (1). pp. 2-20. ISSN 1526-5501

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

Item Type: Article
Keywords: natural experiment, game show, prisoner's dilemma, cooperation, cooperative behaviour, social behaviour, social preferences, reciprocity, reciprocal behaviour, context effects, anchoring
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Economics
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1110.1413
Depositing User: Van Dolder, Dennie
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2015 09:16
Last Modified: 16 Sep 2016 19:15
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/30844

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