Journal Article

Prisoners and their dilemma


  • Lange
  • A.
  • Khadjavi
  • M.
Publication Date

We report insights into the behavior of prisoners in dilemma situations that so famously carry their name. We compare female inmates and students in a simultaneous and a sequential Prisoner’s Dilemma. In the simultaneous Prisoner’s Dilemma, the cooperation rate among inmates exceeds the rate of cooperating students. Relative to the simultaneous dilemma, cooperation among first-movers in the sequential Prisoner’s Dilemma increases for students, but not for inmates. Students and inmates behave identically as second movers. Hence, we find a similar and significant fraction of inmates and students to hold social preferences.

Kiel Institute Expert


JEL Classification
C72, C91, C93, K00

Key Words

  • Prison
  • Prisoner's Dilemma