On October 11th Wojtek Przepiorka of the Utrecht University will give a talk at the ISTC-CNR entitled “Emergence of latent norms in the repeated volunteer’s dilemma: the role of other-regarding preferences and learning”.
Date: 11 October 2017
Time: 14:30 – 16:00
Location: Aula Piaget, ISTC-CNR
Emergence of latent norms in the repeated volunteer’s dilemma: the role of other-regarding preferences and learning
Latent norms are behavioral regularities that emerge from actors’ repeated encounters in social dilemmas. The volunteer’s dilemma (VOD) is a binary choice, n-person game in which a single actor’s cooperation is necessary and sufficient to provide the collective good for the entire group. It has been shown that the payoff structure of the VOD has a strong bearing on the content of the latent norm that emerges. If actors interact in the symmetric VOD, turn-taking patterns emerge. If actors interact in the asymmetric VOD, solitary cooperation by the “strongest” actor (i.e. the actor with the lowest costs of cooperation) emerges. Moreover, the lower the cooperation costs for the strongest actor are, relative to other group members, the higher is the rate of solitary cooperation by the strongest actor.
These findings have led to the conjecture that the effect of asymmetry on the emergence of solitary cooperation in the VOD is moderated by actors’ social value orientation (SVO). Since asymmetry leads to an unequal distribution of payoffs between the strong actor and the other group members, inequality aversion will hamper tacit coordination on the Nash equilibrium in which only the strong actor cooperates. Correspondingly, inequality aversion will promote tacit coordination on turn taking in the symmetric VOD. We test this conjecture in an experiment in which subjects with similar SVO scores are grouped to interact repeatedly in a symmetric or asymmetric VOD. Our results show that the effect of SVO on the emergence of latent norms in the repeated VOD is negligible relative to the effect of the payoff structure.
Finding no effect of SVO, we investigate how learning affects the emergence of latent norms in the repeated VOD. In simulation experiments with two classes of reinforcement learning models, we show that simple state-based learning does not suffice to replicate the behavioral patterns observed in the experiments. Reinforcement of successful future-oriented strategies, however, predicts the same behavioral patterns as found in the empirical data. Further, we show that certain characteristics of learning either support (e.g., realistic propensities), or suppress the emergence of patterns (e.g., altruism). These results highlight the importance of payoff structure and learning for the emergence of latent norms. In how far SVO matters for the emergence of normativity in latent norms remains to be shown.