Seminario IPP: "Sharing compromising information: how 'crime' begets cooperation in the lab"

Por Diego Gambetta (IUE, Florencia)

Sala Herbert A. Simon 3D

Abstract: When people have strong reasons to distrust one another, as criminals or politicians do for instance, they can still cooperate by sharing compromising information with which to blackmail each other and ensure compliance. This information consists of deviant acts – breaches of legal or social norms – which if revealed could trigger punishment by the norm enforcers unaware of their real role in the ploy. Originally an intuition by Thomas Schelling, this tactic to induce cooperation is supported by much anecdotal evidence and has been used to explain the puzzling high level of corruption in Italy. Here we pursue this conjecture experimentally, investigating whether even in a basic and artificial setting actors use deviant acts to foster profitable cooperation with each other. Our results corroborate Schelling’s initial idea that compromising information can be conceived as a “hostage” which, when mutually exchanged, makes each party to the interaction vulnerable and therefore trustworthy in their joint endeavours.


Organiza: Francisco Herreros Vázquez (IPP, CCHS-CSIC)