Tangible Temptation in the Social Dilemma: Cash, Cooperation, and Self-Control

40 Pages Posted: 27 May 2013

See all articles by Kristian Ove R. Myrseth

Kristian Ove R. Myrseth

University of York

Gerhard Riener

Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf

Conny E. Wollbrant

Göteborg University - School of Business, Economics and Law

Date Written: May 24, 2013

Abstract

The social dilemma may contain, within the individual, a self-control conflict between urges to act selfishly and better judgment to cooperate. Examining the argument from the perspective of temptation, we pair the public good game with treatments that vary the degree to which money is abstract (merely numbers on-screen) or tangible (tokens or cash). We also include psychometric measures of self-control and impulsivity. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find in the treatments that render money more tangible a stronger positive association between cooperation and self-control — and a stronger negative association between cooperation and impulsivity. Our results shed light on the conditions under which self-control matters for cooperation.

Keywords: self-control, pro-social behavior, public good experiment, temptation

JEL Classification: D01, D03, D64, D70

Suggested Citation

Myrseth, Kristian Ove R. and Riener, Gerhard and Wollbrant, Conny E., Tangible Temptation in the Social Dilemma: Cash, Cooperation, and Self-Control (May 24, 2013). ESMT Working Paper No. 13-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2270485 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2270485

Kristian Ove R. Myrseth (Contact Author)

University of York ( email )

Sally Baldwin Buildings
Heslington
York, North Yorkshire YO10 5DD
United Kingdom

Gerhard Riener

Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf ( email )

Universitätsstrasse 1
Duesseldorf, DE NRW 40225
Germany

Conny E. Wollbrant

Göteborg University - School of Business, Economics and Law ( email )

Vasagatan 1
Goteborg, 40530
Sweden

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