Hostage Posting as a Mechanism for Co-operation in the Prisoner’s Dilemma Game

  • Pawel P. Mlicki


Investigates hostage posting institutionas a mechanism of co-operation in the two-person Prisoner’sDilemma Game. Game-theoretic conditions are specified that are necessary to boost co-operative behaviour, and the role of transaction costs and bonuses (productive hostages) is discussed. An experiment is reported (N=216) that shows that games characterised by the Nash equilibrium or subgame-perfect equilibrium create conditions that are necessary but not sufficient to encourage actors to post a hostage, while games in which the maximin criterion is met ensure mutual hostage posting and co-operation. While transaction costs significantly discourage subjects from taking advantage of the hostage posting institution, productive hostages do not influence subjects’ co-operative behaviour.


Transaction Cost Reactive Strategy Social Dilemma Equilibrium Property Hostage Institution 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pawel P. Mlicki
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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