The Influence of Other's Morality and Own Social Value Orientation on Cooperation in The Netherlands and the U.S.A.

Paul A. M. Van Lange, Wim B. G. Liebrand
Published Online:
27 Sep 2007
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 26 Issue 4

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The present study examines a two‐person social dilemma characterised by the conflict between the pursuit of own benefits and collective benefits. The main purpose is twofold: (1) to examine the effect of perceptions of one person's morality (e.g. honesty) on expected cooperation from another and own cooperation, and (2) to examine whether pre‐existing differences between individuals in their social value orientation, or preferences for certain patterns of outcomes to self and others (McClintock, 1978), would modify these effects of other's morality. As predicted on the basis of the Might over Morality hypothesis (Liebrand, Jansen et al., 1986), it was found that considerably more cooperation was expected from one perceived as highly moral than from another perceived as low on morality. Contrary to a second Might over Morality prediction, however, this effect was not moderated by individual differences in social value orientation. In addition, it was found that subjects with pro‐social value orientations, as well as those with individualistic and competitive orientations cooperated considerably more with a person perceived as highly moral than with another perceived as low on morality. This latter finding extends previous work on social value orientation in that it suggests that individuals who are predisposed to choose noncooperatively in social dilemmas are willing to cooperate if they are quite confident that the other has truly cooperative and good intentions. Finally, the aforementioned findings were observed in two experiments, one conducted in The Netherlands, the other in the United States. This supports the cross‐cultural generalisability of the present findings.

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