Continuous and step-level pay-off functions in public good games : a conceptual analysis

Abele, Susanne ; Stasser, Garold

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-24405
Document Type: Working paper
Year of publication: 2007
The title of a journal, publication series: Rationalitätskonzepte, Entscheidungsverhalten und ökonomische Modellierung
Volume: 07-72
Place of publication: Mannheim
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Law and Economics > Sonstige - Fakultät für Rechtswissenschaft und Volkswirtschaftslehre
MADOC publication series: Sonderforschungsbereich 504 > Rationalitätskonzepte, Entscheidungsverhalten und ökonomische Modellierung (Laufzeit 1997 - 2008)
Subject: 330 Economics
Subject headings (SWD): Öffentliches Gut , Spieltheorie , Theorie
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.
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