Suckers or Saviors? Consistent Contributors in Social Dilemmas

J. Mark Weber*, J. Keith Murnighan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

Groups and organizations face a fundamental problem: They need cooperation but their members have incentives to free ride. Empirical research on this problem has often been discouraging, and economic models suggest that solutions are unlikely or unstable. In contrast, the authors present a model and 4 studies that show that an unwaveringly consistent contributor can effectively catalyze cooperation in social dilemmas. The studies indicate that consistent contributors occur naturally, and their presence in a group causes others to contribute more and cooperate more often, with no apparent cost to the consistent contributor and often gain. These positive effects seem to result from a consistent contributor's impact on group members' cooperative inferences about group norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1340-1353
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of personality and social psychology
Volume95
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008

Keywords

  • consistent contributor
  • cooperation
  • decision making
  • norms
  • public good
  • rational choice
  • social dilemma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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