How do people decide which action to take? This question is best answered using Game Theory, which has proposed a series of decision-making mechanisms that people potentially use. In network simulations, wherein games are repeated and pay-off differences can be observed, those mechanisms often rely on imitation of successful behaviour. Surprisingly, little to no evidence has been provided about whether people actually imitate more successful opponents when altering their actions in that context. By comparing two experimental treatments wherein participants play the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma game in a lattice, we aim to answer whether more successful actions are imitated. While in the first treatment, participants have the possibility to use pay-off differences in making their decision, the second treatment hinders such imitation as no information about the gains is provided. If imitation of the more successful plays a role then there should be a difference in how players switch from cooperation to defection between both treatments. Although, cooperation and pay-off levels do not appear to be significantly different between both treatments, detailed analysis shows that there are behavioural differences: when confronted with a more successful co-player, the focal player will imitate her behaviour as the switching is related to the experienced pay-off inequality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number200618
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2020

    Research areas

  • game theory, behavioural experiments, imitation, network reciprocity

ID: 53478159