Cooperation, social axioms, and personality in the public goods game

The public goods game (PGG) has been a useful tool for providing insight into cooperation in social dilemmas. Heterogeneity in cooperation suggests that individual difference variables may have predictive value. I hypothesized that social axioms, defined as generalized beliefs about the social world, and the five-factor model personality traits would predict earlier contributions in an iterated PGG, while feedback about others’ contributions may become more important in the later rounds. Participants (n = 136) played ten rounds of PGG in three conditions – cooperative, selfish, or realistic – created by using false feedback. Participants also completed the Social Axioms Survey (SAS) and the Big Five Inventory (BFI). Results indicated that the ten-factor model best predicted cooperation in the early rounds of the realistic condition. Cooperation was a function of religiosity in the selfish condition.