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Far but finite horizons promote cooperation in the Centipede game

journal contribution
posted on 17.08.2018, 09:05 by Eva M. Krockow, Briony D. Pulford, Andrew M. Colman
The sequential Centipede game models repeated reciprocal interaction, in which two players alternate in choosing between cooperation and defection. In an attempt to increase the game's applicability to real-life decision contexts, we investigated the effects of game length and termination rules on cooperation in the Centipede game. We found that increasing the game length from 8 to 20 decision nodes increased cooperation, but only if the game's end was known to participants. Games with unknown ends manifested lower cooperation levels without an endgame effect (increased defection immediately before a known end). Random game termination by the computer appeared to increase the percentage of games adhering to the Nash equilibrium outcome mandated by game theory, and generally lowered cooperation levels.


The research reported in this article was supported by an award to the first author from Friedrich Naumann Stiftung für die Freiheit, and from the Leicester Judgment and Decision Making Endowment fund (Grant No. RM43G0176) to the second and third authors. The authors are grateful to Kevin McCracken for help with software development.



Journal of Economic Psychology, 2018, 67, pp. 191-199

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF LIFE SCIENCES/Biological Sciences/Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour


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Journal of Economic Psychology


Elsevier, International Association for Research in Economic Psychology



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