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PublicationResilient Cooperators Stabilize Long-run Cooperation In The Finitely Repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma(2017-01-13) Mao, Andrew; Suri, Siddharth; Watts, Duncan J.; Dworkin, LiliLearning in finitely repeated games of cooperation remains poorly understood in part because their dynamics play out over a timescale exceeding that of traditional lab experiments. Here, we report results of a virtual lab experiment in which 94 subjects play up to 400 ten-round games of Prisoner’s Dilemma over the course of twenty consecutive weekdays. Consistent with previous work, the typical round of first defection moves earlier for several days; however, this unravelling process stabilizes after roughly one week. Analysing individual strategies, we find that approximately 40% of players behave as resilient cooperators who avoid unravelling even at significant cost to themselves. Finally, using a standard learning model we predict that a sufficiently large minority of resilient cooperators can permanently stabilize unravelling among a majority of rational players. These results shed hopeful light on the long-term dynamics of cooperation, and demonstrate the importance of long-run experiments.