Developing an Experimental Analysis of Metacontingencies: Considerations Regarding Cooperation in a Four-Person Prisoner’s Dilemma Game

Zachary H. Morford, Traci M. Cihon


Cooperation is an important area of investigation for behavior analysis. The Prisoner’s Dilemma game (PDG) provides a useful scenario for studying cooperation in a behavior analytic paradigm. The PDG can be coupled with the concept of the metacontingency to investigate how various contingency arrangements support and promote cooperation in a group. Players in this experiment participated in a PDG and, in some conditions, were given the ability to fine other players but could not talk. The goal of this experiment was to investigate how players’ ability to fine one another affected the players’ patterns of cooperation, and whether fining itself was affected by the addition of a shared group consequence. The data show that participants cooperated in some conditions, but the fines did not seem to affect players’ rates of cooperation.


metacontingencies; interlocking contingencies; culture; prisoner's dilemma game

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Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library

And Behaviorists for Social Responsibility