Experimental Economics

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 3–20 | Cite as

The rise of cooperation in correlated matching prisoners dilemma: An experiment

  • Chun-Lei Yang
  • Ching-Syang Jack Yue
  • I-Tang Yu


Recently, there has been a Renaissance for multi-level selection models to explain the persistence of unselfish behavior in social dilemmas, in which assortative/correlated matching plays an important role. In the current study of a multi-round prisoners’ dilemma experiment, we introduce two correlated matching procedures that match subjects with similar action histories together. We discover significant treatment effects, compared to the control procedure of random matching. Particularly with the weighted history matching procedure we find bifurcations regarding group outcomes. Some groups converge to the all-defection equilibrium even more pronouncedly than the control groups do, while other groups generate much higher rate of cooperation, which is also associated with higher relative reward for a typical cooperative action. All in all, the data show that cooperation does have a much better chance to persist in a correlated/assortative-matching environment, as predicted in the literature.


Prisoners’ dilemma Cooperation Experiment Unselfish behavior Evolution Assortative matching Correlated matching Multi-level selection 


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Supplementary material

10683_2006_9139_MOESEM1_ESM.doc (43 kb)
Appendix for C.-L. Yang, J. Yue, and I.-T Yu (Experimental Economics), “The Rise of Cooperation in Correlated Matching Prisoners Dilemma: An Experiment”
10683_2006_9139_MOESEM2_ESM.xls (510 kb)
Electronic Supplementary Material


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Copyright information

© Economic Science Association 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chun-Lei Yang
    • 1
  • Ching-Syang Jack Yue
    • 2
  • I-Tang Yu
    • 3
  1. 1.Research Center for Humanity and Social Sciences, Academia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan, ROC
  2. 2.Department of StatisticsNational Chengchi UniversityTaipeiTaiwan, ROC
  3. 3.Department of StatisticsTunghai UniversityTaichungTaiwan, ROC

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