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Behavioral Mistakes Support Cooperation in an N-Person Repeated Public Goods Game

Jung-Kyoo Choi and Jun Sok Huhh

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Abstract: This study investigates the effect of behavioral mistakes on the evolutionary stability of the cooperative equilibrium in a repeated public goods game. Many studies show that behavioral mistakes have detrimental effects on cooperation because they reduce the expected length of mutual cooperation by triggering the conditional retaliation of the cooperators. However, this study shows that behavioral mistakes could have positive effects. Conditional cooperative strategies are either neutrally stable or are unstable in a mistake-free environment, but we show that behavioral mistakes can make \textit{all} of the conditional cooperative strategies evolutionarily stable. We show that behavioral mistakes stabilize the cooperative equilibrium based on the most intolerant cooperative strategy by eliminating the behavioral indistinguishability between conditional cooperators in the cooperative equilibrium. We also show that mistakes make the tolerant conditional cooperative strategies evolutionarily stable by preventing the defectors from accumulating the free-rider's advantages. Lastly, we show that the behavioral mistakes could serve as a criterion for the equilibrium selection among cooperative equilibria.

Date: 2021-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-evo, nep-exp and nep-gth
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