10.3 The Link between Cooperation and Social Networks: Exclusion or Stimulation of Defectors?

Understanding how cooperation can spread is of importance for thriving societies, theory, and policy. Scholars identified several key features affecting cooperation.

Project info

Description
Understanding how cooperation can spread is of importance for thriving societies, theory, and policy. Scholars identified several key features affecting cooperation. We highlight two fundamental ways that link networks to cooperation: mutual selection of cooperative actors, and influence from cooperators on defectors. The presence of ties can be a channel for enforcing cooperation (influence) through, e.g., learning, imitation, and sanctioning, but the possibility to endogenously create and sever ties can be an enforcement mechanism as well (selection). As selection changes the network, thus affecting the scope for influence processes, we need a dynamic approach to account for both mechanisms simultaneously that hitherto has not been addressed. Most work in that regard has been done with static network, however, social networks are not static but dynamic in nature. Yet, whether and how social networks affect cooperative behavior and vice versa also depends on personality characteristics. Some actors are innately more likely to cooperate than others. We study how configurations of social relations and cooperative behavior – affected by individuals’ personality characteristics – co-evolve from one point of time to another. The scope of this project is twofold: accounting for factors ‘outside’ (selection and influence) and ‘inside’ of the individual. The main research question is: How do selection, influence, and personality jointly relate to cooperation in (students’) social networks over time? This project moves beyond existing research in the field of cooperation in two ways: (1) it integrates selection and influence processes in a dynamic perspective, and (2) it tests how both processes are moderated by individuals’ personality characteristics.
Project start
01/09/2018
End date
01/09/2022
Behavioral theory
  • Networks
Researchers
PI
Rijks Universiteit Groningen
Supervisor
Rijks Universiteit Groningen
Supervisor
Rijks Universiteit Groningen
Subjects
  • Cooperation
  • Public good game
  • Public good provision
  • Social dilemma
  • Sociology
Audience
  • (Experimental) economics
  • Sociology
Work package
  • Theory
Sustainability threat
  • External Shocks
Challenge
  • Network co-evolution
Theoretical background
Social networks, reputations, and individual features Scholars identified two fundamental mechanisms that link networks to cooperation: mutual selection of cooperative actors, and influence from cooperators on defectors. Our theoretical background builds on network mechanisms, namely we integrate selection and influence processes in a dynamic perspective. We also take into consideration the role of innate features (SVO).
Research design
We rely on a triangulation of methods. The methods we employ are complementary. Stochastic actor-oriented models (SAOMs) allow the study of co-evolution of social relations, cooperation, and social value orientations (SVO) within the field. Although this guarantees the realism of this research, it also incorporates more noise and confounders in comparison to agent-based models. Moreover, it is difficult to cleanly measure actual cooperation in the field. Therefore, we will link perceived cooperativeness to agent-based models in which we can cleanly measure cooperation. Using ABMS, we theoretically explore with ABMs the implications of different social structural assumptions on the level of cooperation. We also make use of longitudinal SVO data (6-months).

Funders

Name
Grant ID
Faculty Behavioral and Social Sciences, University of Groningen