Cooperation in Public Goods Games Predicts Behavior in Incentive‐Matched Binary Dilemmas: Evidence for Stable Prosociality

19 Pages Posted: 14 May 2020

See all articles by Timothy L. Mullett

Timothy L. Mullett

University of Warwick

Rebecca McDonald

University of Birmingham

Gordon D. A. Brown

University of Warwick - Department of Psychology

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

We report the results of an experiment in which subjects completed second mover public goods game tasks and second mover binary social dilemma tasks. Each task was completed under three different incentive structures which were matched across tasks. The use of nonlinear incentive structures, along with a novel categorization method, allowed us to identify behavioral subtypes that cannot be distinguished using conventional linear incentive structures. We also examined how well behavior could be predicted across tasks. Subjects' average conditional cooperation levels showed significant cross‐task predictability and stability. However, almost a third of responses (28%) demonstrated unambiguous preference reversals across tasks. We argue that prosociality is best described as an individual‐level trait, similar to risk aversion in choice under risk.

JEL Classification: C7, C91, H41

Suggested Citation

Mullett, Timothy L. and McDonald, Rebecca and Brown, Gordon D. A., Cooperation in Public Goods Games Predicts Behavior in Incentive‐Matched Binary Dilemmas: Evidence for Stable Prosociality (January 2020). Economic Inquiry, Vol. 58, Issue 1, pp. 67-85, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3596391 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecin.12796

Timothy L. Mullett (Contact Author)

University of Warwick ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

Rebecca McDonald

University of Birmingham

Edgbaston, B15 2TT
United Kingdom

Gordon D. A. Brown

University of Warwick - Department of Psychology ( email )

Gibbet Hill Rd.
Coventry, West Midlands CV4 8UW
United Kingdom

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