Theory and Decision

, Volume 71, Issue 4, pp 473–502 | Cite as

Words versus actions as a means to influence cooperation in social dilemma situations

  • Ganna Pogrebna
  • David H. Krantz
  • Christian Schade
  • Claudia Keser


We use a sequential voluntary contribution game to compare the relative impact of a first-mover’s non-binding announcement versus binding commitment on cooperation. We find that a non-binding announcement and a binding commitment increase individual contributions to a similar extent. Since announced contributions systematically exceed commitments, in sessions with a non-binding announcement, second-movers tend to contribute more to the group activity than in sessions with a binding commitment. Yet, second-movers appear to be more motivated towards achieving a social optimum when the first-mover uses commitment. We also find that a non-binding announcement has a higher impact on individual propensity to cooperate than the ex post contribution of the first-mover. However, the failure to make announced contributions decreases cooperation even though the first-mover is reassigned in every period.


Non-binding announcement Binding commitment Voluntary contribution game Cheap talk 

JEL Classification

C72 C92 H41 D83 


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Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ganna Pogrebna
    • 1
  • David H. Krantz
    • 2
  • Christian Schade
    • 3
  • Claudia Keser
    • 4
  1. 1.Economics DepartmentUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies and Innovation Management, School of Business and EconomicsHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Faculty of Economic SciencesGeorg-August-Universität GöttingenGöttingenGermany

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