Strong, bold, and kind: Self-control and cooperation in social dilemmas

Martin Kocher, Peter Martinsson, Kristian Ove Myrseth, Conny Wollbrant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


We develop a model that relates self-control to cooperation patterns in social dilemmas, and we test the model in a laboratory public goods experiment. As predicted, we find a robust association between stronger self-control and higher levels of cooperation, and the association is at its strongest when the decision maker’s risk aversion is low and the cooperation levels of others high. We interpret the pattern as evidence for the notion that individuals may experience an impulse to act in self-interest—and that cooperative behavior benefits from self-control. Free-riders differ from other contributor types only in their tendency not to have identified a self-control conflict in the first place.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-69
Number of pages26
JournalExperimental Economics
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Experiment
  • Public good
  • Self-control
  • Cooperation
  • Risk


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