Project Information

Kurt Lewin Instituut
Heidelberglaan 1
Room Number H1.42
The Netherlands
T: +31 (0)30 - 253 3027

Project Information

Project Title
"Interdependence and Cooperation"

VU University Amsterdam - Experimental and applied psychology

PhD Student
Simon Columbus

Dr. Daniel Balliet (VU University Amsterdam)
Prof. Dr. Paul van Lange (VU University Amsterdam)

1 July 2016 - 30 June 2020

ERC Grant to D. Balliet


Human behaviour takes place in social situations which vary along multiple dimensions of interdependence – degree of interdependence, correspondence of conflict of interests, need for coordination or exchange, asymmetry of power (Kelley et al., 2003). Specific combinations of these dimensions mark 'named places' on the map of situations, such as the Prisoner's Dilemma or what is known as the game of Chicken (ibid.). Recent research suggests that how people construe of such situational interdependence influences when and how they cooperate or engage in conflict (Halevy et al., 2012; Sherman et al., 2015). Our project seeks to make three major contributions to our understanding of interdependence and cooperation: a) to map out “which games people play”, i.e., to explore what types of interdependent situations people encounter in their daily lives (and whether these correspond to 'named places'); b) to discover the mechanisms by which people infer outcome interdependence from cues in their social environment; and c) to test how this subjectively experienced interdependence shapes cooperative behavior across contexts. In doing so, we draw on theoretical insights from evolutionary psychology and interdependence theory (Functional Interdependence Theory, Balliet et al., 2016). We use a wide variety of methods, including experience sampling, meta-analysis, and behavioural game theory. Our hope is that this project will both contribute to the study of situations in the behavioural sciences and to allow us to better understand how to promote cooperation in interpersonal relationships and organisations.


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