Social Value Orientation, Expectations, and Cooperation in Social Dilemmas: A Meta-analysis

Jan Luca Pletzer*, Daniel Balliet, Jeff Joireman, D. Michael Kuhlman, Sven C. Voelpel, Paul A.M. Van Lange

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Interdependent situations are pervasive in human life. In these situations, it is essential to form expectations about the others' behaviour to adapt one's own behaviour to increase mutual outcomes and avoid exploitation. Social value orientation, which describes the dispositional weights individuals attach to their own and to another person's outcome, predicts these expectations of cooperation in social dilemmas—an interdependent situation involving a conflict of interests. Yet, scientific evidence is inconclusive about the exact differences in expectations between prosocials, individualists, and competitors. The present meta-analytic results show that, relative to proselfs (individualists and competitors), prosocials expect more cooperation from others in social dilemmas, whereas individualists and competitors do not significantly differ in their expectations. The importance of these expectations in the decision process is further highlighted by the finding that they partially mediate the well-established relation between social value orientation and cooperative behaviour in social dilemmas. In fact, even proselfs are more likely to cooperate when they expect their partner to cooperate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-83
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Personality
Issue number1
Early online date14 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


This research was supported by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council awarded to Daniel Balliet (StG #635356). We thank Mike Cheung for his valuable help in conducting the meta-analytic structural equation modelling.

FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme635356


    • cooperation
    • expectations
    • social dilemmas
    • social value orientation
    • trust


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