A comparative analysis of spatial Prisoner's Dilemma experiments: Conditional cooperation and payoff irrelevance Articles uri icon

publication date

  • April 2014

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 9


  • 4615


  • 4

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 2045-2322


  • We have carried out a comparative analysis of data collected in three experiments on Prisoner's Dilemmas on lattices available in the literature. We focus on the different ways in which the behavior of human subjects can be interpreted, in order to empirically narrow down the possibilities for behavioral rules. Among the proposed update dynamics, we find that the experiments do not provide significant evidence for non- innovative game dynamics such as imitate-the-best or pairwise comparison rules, whereas moody conditional cooperation is supported by the data from all three experiments. This conclusion questions the applicability of many theoretical models that have been proposed to understand human behavior in spatial Prisoner's Dilemmas. A rule compatible with all our experiments, moody conditional cooperation, suggests that there is no detectable influence of interaction networks on the emergence of cooperation in behavioral experiments.


  • Biology and Biomedicine
  • Mathematics


  • evolutionary games; indirect reciprocity; promote cooperation; genetical evolution; social dilemmas; networks; îmosj;emt; altruism; dynamics; behavior