The prisoners’ dilemma with actual prisoners

This is from a new research paper by Menusch Khadjavi and Andreas Lange:

We compare female inmates and students in a simultaneous and a sequential Prisoner’s Dilemma. In the simultaneous Prisoner’s Dilemma, the cooperation rate among inmates exceeds the rate of cooperating students. Relative to the simultaneous dilemma, cooperation among first-movers in the sequential Prisoner’s Dilemma increases for students, but not for inmates. Students and inmates behave identically as second movers. Hence, we find a similar and significant fraction of inmates and students to hold social preferences….

The blog post and link to research is here, hat tip goes to @Noahpinion.


Cute. But when you want to make statements about group differences, you need representative samples. (Yes, this argument applies to a lot of published research, mainly about sex differences.)

The Stanford Prison Experiment comes to mind

I'm not surprised by the result, since the code of the street is "snitches get stitches" ... but like all such experiments, the results are most likely a function of the artificial lab setting in which they take place

This was already explored far more dramatically in Batman: The Dark Knight

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