Cooperation in normatively ambiguous situations
PhD Project 2014 - 2019 (expected)
Project Description: Research in recent decades has made significant progress in explaining when and how cooperation in the pursuit of group interests can be successfully established and enforced. Experimental research prominently demonstrated that a significant proportion of people will behave cooperatively, and encourage others to do so as well, even when this is against their own material interests. However, what 'cooperative behavior' means in a particular situation is often ambiguous. We argue that one important element of ambiguity is introduced when people are part of multiple groups, which make competing demands on their time and resources. Under such circumstances, behaving cooperatively within one group may imply behaving uncooperatively within another. Using theoretical modeling and laboratory experiments, this project investigates individual behavior and collective outcomes in such situations and aims to identify the conditions under which ambiguity fosters or hampers cooperation.