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Continuous and Step-level Pay-off Functions in Public Good Games: A Conceptual Analysis

Susanne Abele () and Garold Stasser ()
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Susanne Abele: Miami University, Department of Psychology
Garold Stasser: Miami University, Department of Psychology

No 07-72, Sonderforschungsbereich 504 Publications from Sonderforschungsbereich 504, Universität Mannheim, Sonderforschungsbereich 504, University of Mannheim

Abstract: Conflicts between individuals’ and collective interests are ubiquitous in social life. Numerous experimental studies have investigated the resolution of such conflicts using public good games with either continuous or step-level payoff functions. A conceptual analysis using both classic game theory and social exchange theory shows that these two types of games are fundamentally different. A continuous function game is a social dilemma in that it contains a conflict between individual and collective interests whereas a step-level game is primarily a social coordination game. Thus, we conclude that one can not safely generalize results from step-level to continuous form games. Additionally, our analysis shows that the distinction between continuous and single-step games can be blurred by segmenting a continuous function into steps or adding steps to a single-step game. We identify characteristics of the payoff function that conceptually mark the transition from a dilemma to a coordination problem.

Pages: 34 pages
Date: 2007-12-17
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp, nep-gth and nep-pbe
Note: Financial support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 504, at the University of Mannheim, is gratefully acknowledged.
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1)

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