Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

When, how and why do people cooperate/coordinate?

In my research, I focus on cooperation, social dilemmas, tacit coordination, uncertainty, sanctions and trust.

Tacit coordination 

In 2005, Thomas Schelling received the Nobel Prize in Economics. He received this prize partly for his research on tacit coordination, the idea that people can often effectively coordinate their decisions even in the absence of communication. To give a simple example: Imagine that you lost your best friend somewhere in Amsterdam (and you left your mobile phone at home). What would you do to find your friend back? In my research, I focus on the psychological processes that underlie tacit coordination. 

Social dilemmas 

Social dilemmas are situations in which people experience a conflict between their own self-interest and the interest of the group to which they belong. In such situations, people thus have to choose between being selfish (choosing for themselves) and being cooperative (choosing for their group). A real-life example of a social dilemma is the problem of over-fishing. Whereas individual fishermen might be tempted to further their self-interest by fishing as much fish as they can, the collective interest is jeopardized when all fishermen decide to do so (because then the fish population becomes depleted). In my research, I currently focus on sanctions, uncertainty and trust in social dilemmas.