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Strong, bold, and kind: Self-control and cooperation in social dilemmas

  • Martin G. Kocher

    (Department of Economics, University of Munich)

  • Peter Martinsson

    (Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg)

  • Kristian Ove R. Myrseth

    (ESMT European School of Management and Technology)

  • Conny Wollbrant

    (Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg)

We develop a model that relates self-control and conflict identification to cooperation patterns in social dilemmas. As predicted, we find in a laboratory public goods experiment a robust association between stronger self-control and higher levels of cooperation. This means that there is evidence for an impulse to be selfish and that cooperative behavior requires self-control effort. Free-riders differ from other contributor types only in their tendency not to have identified a self-control conflict in the first place.

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File URL: http://static.esmt.org/publications/workingpapers/ESMT-12-01_R1.pdf
File Function: Revised version, 2012
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Paper provided by ESMT European School of Management and Technology in its series ESMT Research Working Papers with number ESMT-12-01 (R1).

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 19 Jan 2012
Date of revision: 28 Mar 2013
Handle: RePEc:esm:wpaper:esmt-12-01
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  1. Matthias Sutter & Martin G. Kocher & Daniela Rützler & Stefan T. Trautmann, 2011. "Impatience and Uncertainty: Experimental Decisions Predict Adolescents' Field Behavior," CESifo Working Paper Series 3635, CESifo Group Munich.
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  4. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Cooperation in Public-Goods Experiments: Kindness or Confusion?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(4), pages 891-904, September.
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  8. Anderson, Simon P. & Goeree, Jacob K. & Holt, Charles A., 1998. "A theoretical analysis of altruism and decision error in public goods games," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 297-323, November.
  9. Benedikt Herrmann & Christian Thoeni, 2007. "Measuring Conditional Cooperation: A Replication Study in Russia," Discussion Papers 2007-07, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  10. Daniel Houser & Robert Kurzban, 2002. "Revisiting Kindness and Confusion in Public Goods Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1062-1069, September.
  11. Kocher, Martin G. & Martinsson, Peter & Matzat, Dominik & Wollbrant, Conny, 2011. "The role of beliefs, trust, and risk in contributions to a public good," Working Papers in Economics 482, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  12. Fehr, Ernst & Leibbrandt, Andreas, 2011. "A field study on cooperativeness and impatience in the Tragedy of the Commons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(9), pages 1144-1155.
  13. Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny Wollbrant, 2010. "Cooperation in social dilemmas: The necessity of seeing self-control conflict," ESMT Research Working Papers ESMT-10-004 (R1), ESMT European School of Management and Technology, revised 16 Nov 2012.
  14. Kreps, David M. & Milgrom, Paul & Roberts, John & Wilson, Robert, 1982. "Rational cooperation in the finitely repeated prisoners' dilemma," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 245-252, August.
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  16. Thaler, Richard H & Shefrin, H M, 1981. "An Economic Theory of Self-Control," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(2), pages 392-406, April.
  17. Ambrus, Attila & Pathak, Parag A., 2011. "Cooperation over finite horizons: A theory and experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(7), pages 500-512.
  18. Myrseth, Kristian Ove R. & Wollbrant, Conny, 2011. "Naïve and Capricious: Stumbling into the ring of self-control conflict," Working Papers in Economics 515, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  19. Volk, Stefan & Thöni, Christian & Ruigrok, Winfried, 2012. "Temporal stability and psychological foundations of cooperation preferences," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 664-676.
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  21. Ernst Fehr & Klaus M. Schmidt, . "A Theory of Fairness, Competition and Cooperation," IEW - Working Papers 004, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  22. Greiner, Ben, 2004. "An Online Recruitment System for Economic Experiments," MPRA Paper 13513, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  23. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter, 2009. "Social Preferences, Beliefs, and the Dynamics of Free Riding in Public Good Experiments," Discussion Papers 2009-04, The Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics, School of Economics, University of Nottingham.
  24. Laibson, David, 1997. "Golden Eggs and Hyperbolic Discounting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(2), pages 443-77, May.
  25. Schelling, Thomas C, 1984. "Self-Command in Practice, in Policy, and in a Theory of Rational Choice," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 1-11, May.
  26. Andereoni, J., 1988. "Why Free Ride? Strategies And Learning In Public Goods Experiments," Working papers 375, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  27. Kocher, Martin G. & Cherry, Todd & Kroll, Stephan & Netzer, Robert J. & Sutter, Matthias, 2008. "Conditional cooperation on three continents," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 101(3), pages 175-178, December.
  28. Charles A. Holt & Susan K. Laury, 2002. "Risk Aversion and Incentive Effects," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1644-1655, December.
  29. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  30. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-77, June.
  31. Peter Martinsson & Kristian Ove R. Myrseth & Conny Wollbrant, 2012. "Reconciling pro-social vs. selfish behavior: On the role of self-control," Judgment and Decision Making, Society for Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 7(3), pages 304-315, May.
  32. Benabou, Roland & Pycia, Marek, 2002. "Dynamic inconsistency and self-control: a planner-doer interpretation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 419-424, November.
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  37. repec:dgr:uvatin:2000011 is not listed on IDEAS
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