The influence of personalities and values on cooperation preferences in public goods experiments: A cross-cultural investigation in Germany and Indonesia (financed by a DFG research grant)

Dr. Stefan Volk

Experimental social dilemma research has shown that while some people are primarily motivated by material self-interest, others exhibit other-regarding preferences for cooperation. This research has also shown that the shares of subjects with self-interested and cooperative preferences vary considerably across cultures. These heterogeneous cooperation preferences have received much attention in behavioral game theory in recent years due to their high relevance for the understanding of a number of important economic and social phenomena. However, despite the mounting evidence on heterogeneous cooperation preferences within and across cultures, so far only little attention has been paid to the sources of this behavioral variation. In this DFG-financed research project we attempt to fill this gap. Our project is centered around the following two sub-themes. First, we will adopt a comparative perspective to explore how differences in genetically-determined personality traits and culturally-influenced personal values across cultures are related to the observed cross-cultural variations in the shares of self-interested and cooperative individuals. Second, we will consider interactions between individuals from different cultures to investigate how cross-cultural differences in personalities and values affect cooperation preferences in intercultural interactions. We will address these points by conducting intra- and inter-cultural experiments in which German and Indonesian subjects play public goods games with partners of their own as well as the other culture. This fundamental research will contribute to the growing literature on cross-cultural differences in economic behavior, illuminate the sources of heterogeneous cooperation preferences and provide us with a better understanding of the different cooperation preference types and the individuals that are likely to exhibit these preferences.