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Seriousness of Social Dilemmas and the Provision of a Sanctioning System

Toshio Yamagishi
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 51, No. 1 (Mar., 1988), pp. 32-42
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2786982
Page Count: 11
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Seriousness of Social Dilemmas and the Provision of a Sanctioning System
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Abstract

Two types of cooperation can be distinguised in social dilemmas. Elementary cooperation occurs when members cooperate for the benefit of the collectivity. Instrumental cooperation occurs when members cooperate to introduce a change in the incentive structure (such as the provision of a sanctioning system) so as to eliminate the dilemma from the original situation. The results of a social dilemma experiment, using 48 same-sex four-person groups, indicate that (a) in the absence of a sanctioning system, greater temptation ot defect makes the subjects cooperate less fully, whereas (b) when opportunities to cooperate in a sanctioning system exist, greater temptation to defect in the original dilemma makes the subjects cooperative more fully for the provision or maintenance of the sanctioning system when the gain for cooperation is large. The implication of these findings is that as the social dilemma becomes more serious, people become more willing to cooperate in provinding a change in the system which addresses the dilemma problem.

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