November 2017

IZA DP No. 11130: The Effect of Positive Mood on Cooperation in Repeated Interaction

Eugenio Proto, Daniel Sgroi, Mahnaz Nazneen

revised version forthcoming in: Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,

Existing research supports two opposing mechanisms through which positive mood might affect cooperation. Some studies have suggested that positive mood produces more altruistic, open and helpful behavior, fostering cooperation. However, there is contrasting research supporting the idea that positive mood produces more assertiveness and inward-orientation and reduced use of information, hampering cooperation. We find evidence that suggests the second hypothesis dominates when playing the repeated Prisoner's Dilemma. Players in an induced positive mood tend to cooperate less than players in a neutral mood setting. This holds regardless of uncertainty surrounding the number of repetitions or whether pre-play communication has taken place. This finding is consistent with a text analysis of the pre-play communication between players indicating that subjects in a more positive mood use more inward-oriented, more negative and less positive language. To the best of our knowledge we are the first to use text analysis in pre-play communication.