Tangible temptation in the social dilemma: Cash, cooperation, and self-control

Kristian Ove Myrseth, Gerhard Riener, Conny Wollbrant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


The social dilemma may involve a within-person conflict, between urges to act selfishly and better judgment to cooperate. Examining the proposition from the perspective of temptation, we pair the public good game with treatments that vary the degree to which money is abstract (numbers on-screen) or tangible (tokens or cash). We also include psychometric measures of self-control and impulsivity. Consistent with our hypothesis, we find in the treatments that render money more tangible a stronger positive association between cooperation and self-control — and a stronger negative association between cooperation and impulsivity. Our results show that the representation of the endowment in the public good game matters for the role of self-control — and hence cooperation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-77
JournalJournal of Neuroscience, Psychology, and Economics
Issue number2
Early online date4 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Social dilemmas
  • Self-control
  • Cooperation
  • Public good experiment
  • Temptation


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