IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

It pays to pay - Big Five personality influences on co-operative behaviour in an incentivized and hypothetical prisoner's dilemma game


  • Jan-Erik Loennqvist

    (Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Markku Verkasalo

    (Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland)

  • Gari Walkowitz

    (Department of Management, University of Cologne, Germany)


The authors investigated how the presence or absence of monetary incentives in a prisoner's dilemma game may influence research outcomes. Specifically, the predictive power of the Big Five personality traits on decisions in an incentivized (N = 60) or hypothetical (N = 60) prisoner's dilemma game was investigated. Participants were less generous in the incentivized game. More importantly, personality predicted decisions only in the incentivized game, with low Neuroticism and high Openness to Experience predicting more cooperative transfers. The influence of Neuroticism on behaviour in the incentivized game was mediated by risk attitude. The results are consistent with other results suggesting that the Big Five are relevant predictors of moral behaviour, and with results suggesting that the determinants of hypothetical decisions are different from the determinants of real decisions, with the latter being more revealing of one's true preferences. The authors argue that psychologists, contrary to prevailing praxis, should consider making their participants' decisions more real. This could allow psychologists to more convincingly generalize laboratory findings into contexts outside of the laboratory.

Suggested Citation

  • Jan-Erik Loennqvist & Markku Verkasalo & Gari Walkowitz, 2010. "It pays to pay - Big Five personality influences on co-operative behaviour in an incentivized and hypothetical prisoner's dilemma game," Cologne Graduate School Working Paper Series 01-05, Cologne Graduate School in Management, Economics and Social Sciences.
  • Handle: RePEc:cgr:cgsser:01-05

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, 1999. "A Theory of Fairness, Competition, and Cooperation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 817-868.
    2. Halla Martin, 2012. "Tax Morale and Compliance Behavior: First Evidence on a Causal Link," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-27, April.
    3. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Corneo, Giacomo & Gruner, Hans Peter, 2002. "Individual preferences for political redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(1), pages 83-107, January.
    5. Frey, Bruno S. & Torgler, Benno, 2007. "Tax morale and conditional cooperation," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 136-159, March.
    6. Alesina, Alberto & Di Tella, Rafael & MacCulloch, Robert, 2004. "Inequality and happiness: are Europeans and Americans different?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 2009-2042, August.
    7. Slemrod, Joel & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 2002. "Tax avoidance, evasion, and administration," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 22, pages 1423-1470 Elsevier.
    8. Dell'Anno, Roberto, 2009. "Tax evasion, tax morale and policy maker's effectiveness," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 988-997, December.
    9. James Andreoni & Brian Erard & Jonathan Feinstein, 1998. "Tax Compliance," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(2), pages 818-860, June.
    10. Friedrich Heinemann & Martin Kocher, 2013. "Tax compliance under tax regime changes," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 20(2), pages 225-246, April.
    11. Charles Bellemare & Sabine Kröger & Arthur van Soest, 2008. "Measuring Inequity Aversion in a Heterogeneous Population Using Experimental Decisions and Subjective Probabilities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(4), pages 815-839, July.
    12. Kai A. Konrad & Salmai Qari, 2012. "The Last Refuge of a Scoundrel? Patriotism and Tax Compliance," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 79(315), pages 516-533, July.
    13. Anthony B. Atkinson & Andrea Brandolini, 2011. "On the identification of the “middle class”," Working Papers 217, ECINEQ, Society for the Study of Economic Inequality.
    14. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
    15. Cummings, Ronald G. & Martinez-Vazquez, Jorge & McKee, Michael & Torgler, Benno, 2009. "Tax morale affects tax compliance: Evidence from surveys and an artefactual field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 447-457, June.
    16. Pommerehne, Werner W & Weck-Hannemann, Hannelore, 1996. "Tax Rates, Tax Administration and Income Tax Evasion in Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 88(1-2), pages 161-170, July.
    17. Torgler, Benno & Schneider, Friedrich, 2009. "The impact of tax morale and institutional quality on the shadow economy," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 228-245, April.
    18. Joel Slemrod, 2007. "Cheating Ourselves: The Economics of Tax Evasion," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(1), pages 25-48, Winter.
    19. Alm, James & Torgler, Benno, 2006. "Culture differences and tax morale in the United States and in Europe," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 224-246, April.
    20. Torgler, Benno & Demir, Ihsan C. & Macintyre, Alison & Schaffner, Markus, 2008. "Causes and Consequences of Tax Morale: An Empirical Investigation," Economic Analysis and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 313-339, September.
    21. Elffers, Henk & Weigel, Russell H. & Hessing, Dick J., 1987. "The consequences of different strategies for measuring tax evasion behavior," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 311-337, September.
    22. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
    23. Benno Torgler, 2005. "Tax morale in Latin America," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 122(1), pages 133-157, January.
    24. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-741, September.
    25. Torgler, Benno, 2006. "The importance of faith: Tax morale and religiosity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(1), pages 81-109, September.
    26. Eckel, Catherine & Gintis, Herbert, 2010. "Blaming the messenger: Notes on the current state of experimental economics," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 109-119, January.
    27. Torgler, Benno, 2004. "Tax morale in Asian countries," Journal of Asian Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 237-266, April.
    28. Peter, Klara Sabirianova & Buttrick, Steve & Duncan, Denvil, 2010. "Global Reform of Personal Income Taxation, 1981–2005: Evidence From 189 Countries," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 63(3), pages 447-478, September.
    29. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
    30. Shih-Ying Wu & Mei-Jane Teng, 2005. "Determinants of Tax Compliance - A Cross-Country Analysis," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 61(3), pages 393-393, November.
    31. Allingham, Michael G. & Sandmo, Agnar, 1972. "Income tax evasion: a theoretical analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(3-4), pages 323-338, November.
    32. Lucy F. Ackert & Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Mark Rider, 2007. "Social Preferences And Tax Policy Design: Some Experimental Evidence," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 45(3), pages 487-501, July.
    33. Jorge Martinez-Vazquez & Benno Torgler, 2009. "The Evolution of Tax Morale in Modern Spain," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 43(1), pages 1-28.
    34. Torgler, Benno, 2002. " Speaking to Theorists and Searching for Facts: Tax Morale and Tax Compliance in Experiments," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 16(5), pages 657-683, December.
    35. Tanja Hennighausen & Friedrich Heinemann, 2015. "Don't Tax Me? Determinants of Individual Attitudes Toward Progressive Taxation," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 16(3), pages 255-289, August.
    36. Fong, Christina, 2001. "Social preferences, self-interest, and the demand for redistribution," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(2), pages 225-246, November.
    37. Jorge Martinz-Vazquez & Benno Torgler, 2005. "The Evolution of Tax Morale in Modern Spain," CREMA Working Paper Series 2005-33, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    38. Guth, Werner & Schmittberger, Rolf & Schwarze, Bernd, 1982. "An experimental analysis of ultimatum bargaining," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 3(4), pages 367-388, December.
    39. McKinnish, Terra, 2007. "Welfare-induced migration at state borders: New evidence from micro-data," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 437-450, April.
    40. Brooks B. Hull, 2000. "Religion Still Matters," Journal of Economic Insight (formerly the Journal of Economics (MVEA)), Missouri Valley Economic Association, vol. 26(2), pages 35-48.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Al-Ubaydli, Omar & Jones, Garett & Weel, Jaap, 2014. "Average player traits as predictors of cooperation in a repeated prisoner's dilemma," MPRA Paper 55383, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Walkowitz, Gari & Lönnqvist, Jan-Erik & Irlenbusch, Bernd, 2013. "Moral hypocrisy: Self-deception or impression management?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79701, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.

    More about this item


    Big Five; Prisoner's dilemma; Social dilemma; Moral behaviour; Incentives; Stake size;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cgr:cgsser:01-05. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (David Kusterer). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.