The Fisherman's problem: Exploring the tension between cooperative and non-cooperative concepts in a simple game

Klaus Abbink, Ron Darziv, Zohar Gilula, Harel Goren, Bernd Irlenbusch, Arnon Keren, Bettina Rockenbach, Abdolkarim Sadrieh, Reinhard Selten, Shmuel Zamir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We introduce and experiment the Fisherman's Game in which the application of economic theory leads to four different benchmarks. Non-cooperative sequential rationality predicts one extreme outcome while the core (which coincides with the competitive market equilibrium) predicts the other extreme. Intermediate, disjoint outcomes are predicted by fairness utility models and the Shapley value. None of the four benchmarks fully explains the observed behavior. However, since elements of both cooperative and non-cooperative game theory are crucial for organizing our data, we conclude that effort towards bridging the gap between the various concepts is a promising approach for future economic research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-445
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2003
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank the teams of the RatioLab at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Laboratorium für experimentelle Wirtschaftsforschung at the University of Bonn for their aid in collecting the data. Furthermore, the authors thank seminar and conference participants in Bari, Bilbao, Munich, and Tilburg, and an anonymous referee for their helpful comments. Support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft through the Sonderforschungsbereich 303, by the German–Israeli Foundation (GIF), by the European Union through the TMR program ENDEAR (FMRX-CT98-0238), and by the Land Nordrhein-Westfalen is gratefully acknowledged.


  • Backward induction
  • Competition
  • Experimental economics
  • Game theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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