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Theory of Mind Predicts Cooperative Behavior

Gregory DeAngelo and Bryan McCannon

No 16-16, Working Papers from Department of Economics, West Virginia University

Abstract: Explanations for cooperation in Prisoner’s Dilemma games (PD) have generated significant interest. While institutional explanations, such as the role of repeated interactions and communication, have offered considerable explanatory ability, a psychological measure of Theory of the Mind (ToM) – Reading the Mind in the Eyes – of an individual’s ability to process social and emotional cognition offers new insights. Using this measure, we examine how ToM explains (un)cooperative behavior in a standard PD game. We find that subjects who have higher ToM are less cooperative in PD games and extract higher payoffs.

Keywords: Cooperation; Experiment; Prisoner’s Dilemma; Reading Mind in the Eyes; Theory of the Mind (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 16 pages
Date: 2016-06
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-cse, nep-evo, nep-exp, nep-hme and nep-hpe
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