Cooperation in Intergroup, n-Person and Two-Person Games of Chicken

Gary Bornstein, David Budescu & Shmuel Zamir

This paper introduces a new team game where players are engaged in simultaneous games of Chicken between and within teams. The intergroup Chicken game is proposed as a model of intergroup confrontations (e.g., military Conflicts, industrial disputes) involving bilateral threats where a failure on the part of either side to yield leads to an outcome (e.g., war, strike) that is disastrous to both sides. We report an experiment in which an intergroupChicken game with two players in each team was compared with a two-person Chicken and a (single-group) four-person Chicken. The games were played repeatedly and each round was preceded by a pre-game period in which players could signal their intention to cooperate or not. Our interest was in assessing the ability of the participants in the different games to cooperate, i.e., achieve the coordination necessary for the optimal realization of their mutual interests. We found that subjects were considerably less cooperative in the inter-group Chicken game than in either the two-person or the four-person game. Since the coordination problem in the intergroup game is of the same magnitude as that in the four-person game, we attribute most of the competitiveness observed in the intergroup conflict to the strategic properties of the game rather than the number of players involved.

January, 1996
Published in: 
Journal of Conflict Resolution 41 (1997), 384-406