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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1975 Nov;32(5):922-31.

Individual differences in game motivation as moderators of preprogrammed strategy effects in prisoner's dilemma.


The impact of three programmed strategies (tit-for-tat, 100% cooperation, and 100% defection) on cooperation level in the Prisoner's Dilemma game is examined as a function of the subject's motivational orientation (cooperative, competitive, or individualistic). Motivational orientation was assessed on the basis of each subject's choices across four classes of decomposed games. Following this assessment, subject's played 30 trials of Prisoner's dilemma in matrix form against one of the above-mentioned strategies. Results were wholly consistent with predictions, showing that (a) cooperatively oriented subjects cooperate with a tit-for-tat and a 100% cooperative strategy, but defect against a 100% defecting strategy, (b) competitive subjects defect against all three strategies; and (c) individualistic subjects defect against both 100% cooperative and 100% defective strategies, but they cooperate with a tit-for-tat strategy. It appears reasonable to conclude that the outcomes of a Prisoner's Dilemma have affectively different meaning (i.e., values) for subjects of differing orientations, and that subjects of all three orientations adopt strategies that effectively maximize their particular type of reward in the game.

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