The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd


  • Samuel Bowles
  • Herbert Gintis
Reference work entry


We review game-theoretic models of cooperation with self-regarding agents. We then study the folk theorem in large groups of self-regarding individuals with imperfect information. In contrast to the dyadic case with perfect information, the level of cooperation deteriorates with larger group size and higher error rates. Moreover, no plausible account exists of how the dynamic, out-of-equilibrium behaviour of these models would support cooperative outcomes. We then analyse cooperation with other-regarding preferences, finding that a high level of cooperation can be attained in large groups and with modest informational requirements, and that conditions allowing the evolution of such social preferences are plausible.


Cooperation Focal rules Folk theorem Game theory General equilibrium Multiple equilibria Prisoner’s Dilemma Private information Public goods game Reciprocity, indirect Reciprocity, strong Repeated games Reputation maintenance Retaliation Social preferences Strategic interaction Subgame perfection Tit for tat 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel Bowles
    • 1
  • Herbert Gintis
    • 1
  1. 1.