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Understanding how incentives and institutions help scaling up cooperation is important, especially when strategic uncertainty is considerable. Evidence suggests that this is challenging even when full cooperation is theoretically sustainable thanks to indefinite repetition. In a controlled social dilemma experiment, we show that adding partial cooperation choices to the usual binary choice environment can raise cooperation and efficiency. Under suitable incentives, partial cooperation choices enable individuals to cheaply signal their desire to cooperate, reducing strategic uncertainty. The insight is that richer choice sets can form the basis of a language meaningful for coordinating on cooperation.


ESI Working Paper 23-05



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