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

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Ganna Pogrebna.

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Pogrebna, G., Krantz, D.H., Schade, C. et al. Words versus actions as a means to influence cooperation in social dilemma situations. Theory Decis 71, 473–502 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11238-011-9248-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11238-011-9248-5

Keywords

  • Non-binding announcement
  • Binding commitment
  • Voluntary contribution game
  • Cheap talk

JEL Classification

  • C72
  • C92
  • H41
  • D83