Strong, bold, and kind: self-control and cooperation in social dilemmas
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- Kocher, M.G., Martinsson, P., Myrseth, K.O.R. et al. Exp Econ (2017) 20: 44. doi:10.1007/s10683-015-9475-7
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We develop a model that relates self-control to cooperation patterns in social dilemmas, and we test the model in a laboratory public goods experiment. As predicted, we find a robust association between stronger self-control and higher levels of cooperation, and the association is at its strongest when the decision maker’s risk aversion is low and the cooperation levels of others high. We interpret the pattern as evidence for the notion that individuals may experience an impulse to act in self-interest—and that cooperative behavior benefits from self-control. Free-riders differ from other contributor types only in their tendency not to have identified a self-control conflict in the first place.