Revisiting strategic versus non-strategic cooperation

Ernesto Reuben, Sigrid Suetens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We propose a novel experimental method that disentangles strategically-and non-strategically-motivated behavior. We apply it to an indefinitely-repeated prisoner's dilemma game to observe simultaneously how the same individual behaves in situations with future interaction and in situations with no future interaction, while controlling for expectations. This method allows us to determine the extent to which strategically-cooperating individuals are responsible for the observed pattern of cooperation in experiments with repeated interaction, including the so-called endgame effect. Our results indicate that the most common motive for cooperation in repeated games is strategic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-43
Number of pages20
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Cooperation
  • Repeated games
  • Reputation building
  • Strong reciprocity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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