Incentives and cooperation

Dave Krantz, James Cornwell, Raymond Crookes

The goal of this project is to understand how incentives impact decisions to cooperate or defect. We have designed a paradigm to understand the role of incentive size on decisions to cooperate or not to cooperate. Our study is an attempt to understand why this occurs. Incentives play a large role in large-scale environmental decision-making, because the economic models tend to predict their ability to influence behavior.  More often than not, this prediction is borne out, but there are also situations when the inclusion of incentives can backfire.  We want to clarify the role of incentives in decisions to cooperate, because this could have an important place in environmental policy.


Major Findings

  • Not yet available.


Broader Impacts

  • If the findings bear out our predictions, then it can change how we view incentives.  Rather than seeing them as offsets for rational behavior, we can see them as indicating the “right” choice in an ambiguous situation.  This could lead to a restructuring of the use of incentives.
  • Understanding how incentives work is extremely important for their design in a society with a limited budget and a strong desire to improve cooperation among its citizenry.


CRED2 Award (2010-2015): Funding was provided under the cooperative agreement NSF SES-0951516 awarded to the Center for Research on Environmental Decisions.