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Partner choice and cooperation in social dilemmas can increase resource inequality


Stallen, Mirre; Snijder, Luuk; Jörg, Gross; Leon, Hilbert (2023). Partner choice and cooperation in social dilemmas can increase resource inequality. Nature Communications, 14:6432.

Abstract

Cooperation is more likely when individuals can choose their interaction partner. However, partner choice may be detrimental in unequal societies, in which individuals differ in available resources and productivity, and thus in their attractiveness as interaction partners. Here we experimentally examine this conjecture in a repeated public goods game. Individuals (n = 336), participating in groups of eight participants, are assigned a high or low endowment and a high or low productivity factor (the value that their cooperation generates), creating four unique participant types. On each round, individuals are either assigned a partner (assigned partner condition) or paired based on their self-indicated preference for a partner type (partner choice condition). Results show that under partner choice, individuals who were assigned a high endowment and high productivity almost exclusively interact with each other, forcing other individuals into less valuable pairs. Consequently, pre-existing resource differences between individuals increase. These findings show how partner choice in social dilemmas can amplify resource inequality.

Abstract

Cooperation is more likely when individuals can choose their interaction partner. However, partner choice may be detrimental in unequal societies, in which individuals differ in available resources and productivity, and thus in their attractiveness as interaction partners. Here we experimentally examine this conjecture in a repeated public goods game. Individuals (n = 336), participating in groups of eight participants, are assigned a high or low endowment and a high or low productivity factor (the value that their cooperation generates), creating four unique participant types. On each round, individuals are either assigned a partner (assigned partner condition) or paired based on their self-indicated preference for a partner type (partner choice condition). Results show that under partner choice, individuals who were assigned a high endowment and high productivity almost exclusively interact with each other, forcing other individuals into less valuable pairs. Consequently, pre-existing resource differences between individuals increase. These findings show how partner choice in social dilemmas can amplify resource inequality.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Language:English
Date:2023
Deposited On:18 Oct 2023 14:39
Last Modified:30 Mar 2024 04:46
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-42128-2
Official URL:https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-023-42128-2
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)