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PhD Defence

The (un)willingness to reward cooperation and punish non-cooperation

Thursday 19 January 2017
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Short Summary

The greatest challenge for all societies is to protect the collective welfare. This challenge arises from the fact that the interests of the collective do not necessarily coincide with the personal interests of the people belonging to that collective. Thus, on many occasions, people face a dilemma between furthering the collective interests or furthering their personal interests. Situations that revolve around this conflict of interests are called social dilemmas. To enhance cooperation in social dilemmas, sanctions readily come to mind as effective solutions. Whereas positive sanctions (i.e., rewards) for cooperation and negative sanctions (i.e., punishments) for non-cooperation can be effective means, a prerequisite for any effect of rewards and punishments is, first and foremost, that people are willing to administer them. To shed more light on this important – yet long neglected – topic, the central theme of this dissertation is the (un)willingness to reward cooperation and punish non-cooperation. In this work, Welmer Molenmaker reports the results of a series of experiments aimed at identifying determinants of the willingness to sanction in social dilemmas. The determinants that he identified reveal that there are not only psychological processes at play that foster sanctioning, but also psychological processes that hamper sanctioning. By taking a closer look at people’s (un)willingness to incur the costs of rewarding cooperative choice behaviour and punishing non-cooperative choice behaviour, this dissertation provides a more comprehensive view of the potential that sanctions can have to solve social dilemmas in the real world.


  • Prof. E. van Dijk


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PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

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Inès van Arkel, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

Titel proefschrift | Title of dissertation

The (un)willingness to reward cooperation and punish non-cooperation

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