Essays on strategic interactions : Methodological advances in economic game experiments

Theelen, Maik Matheus Paul; Böhm, Robert (Thesis advisor); Harbring, Christine (Thesis advisor)

Aachen (2020)
Dissertation / PhD Thesis

Dissertation, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 2020

Abstract

Strategic interactions - the overarching theme of this dissertation - are an integral part of human life. They consist of decision-makers who can affect their own outcome(s) and/or the outcome(s) of one or more interaction partners. Examples include deciding whether to engage in war, deciding whether to lend money to a friend in need, determining how much effort to assert in a team project, and deciding whether to donate to charity. In their most extreme form, they can inspire the most extraordinary acts of self-sacrifice (e.g., a soldier who sacrifices his life to save a comrade) and precipitate the most appalling acts of greed and cruelty (e.g., the ferocity displayed towards enemies during war). In doing so, strategic interactions cover a broad spectrum of human life and deserve our utmost attention. This dissertation contains three essays, all dealing with societal-relevant strategic interactions (i.e., cooperating to reduce environmental pollution, refugee helping, and intergroup conflict). In these essays, methodological advances are made by modifying economic games to model these strategic interactions better. By using these games in behavioral experiments, cause-and-effect relationships are tested for a broad range of realistic elements that are present in real life but whose influence is not yet fully understood. These include the influence of refugees’ integration efforts on citizens’ willingness to help, the influence of negative outcomes on cooperation, and the influence of intergroup conflict on intragroup cooperation.

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