7 February: Joao Manuel Lameiras Vaz (QSMS Seminar)

Presenting “Commitments and Cooperation: Scope and Channels of Behavioral Change” at 12:15-13:30 in QA406.


On 7 February  2020, we have Joao Manuel Lameiras Vaz of University of Wyoming visiting us. He is going to give a seminar on “Commitments and Cooperation: Scope and Channels of Behavioral Change” at 12:15-13:30 in room A406 in Building Q, Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences, Magyar tudósok körútja 2, 1117 Budapest. Sandwiches will be provided. Please help the organisers by registering in advance at egervari.zsuzsanna@qsms.bme.hu Registration is free.
Also, see our Facebook event.

Abstract: This paper examines the relationship between commitments and cooperation. I build a model that formalizes the extent to which the seriousness, publicness, and believability of a commitment affect the range of people with whom one would be willing to cooperate. Departing from a baseline range of cooperation among individuals who are socially close, the main predictions are that (1) an individual who makes a private commitment to be cooperative expands cooperation (at own material cost) to people she would have not cooperated with otherwise, and (2) a public commitment expands cooperation by both the person making the commitment and her listener. The extent of that expansion depends on whether the listener is skeptical or gullible of his counterpart’s true intentions. Because I assume that commitments change behavior because of changing preferences and since a competing hypothesis is that of changing beliefs, I test which of the two channels is being activated following a commitment. The experimental results indicate that (1) those who commit to being cooperative increase cooperation, but listeners do not, and (2) preferences of those who make a commitment change from pure selfishness to conditional cooperation. The results suggest that individuals attach value to keeping their word and cooperate, not because, but in spite of others’ expectations.