Behavioural Consistency within the Prisoner'S Dilemma Game: The Role of Personality and Situation

  • Tessa Haesevoets (Creator)
  • Chris Reinders Folmer (Contributor)
  • Dries H. Bostyn (Creator)
  • Alain Van Hiel (Contributor)
  • Chris Reinders Folmer (Creator)



Mixed–motive games represent situations that confront people with a conflict between cooperative and non–cooperative alternatives. Despite this common basis, recent research has shown that the consistency of people's choices across different mixed–motive games is rather low. The present research examined behavioural consistency within the same mixed–motive game, by presenting participants with a series of one–shot Prisoner's Dilemma Games. Across this set of games, payoffs were manipulated in order to intensify or weaken the conflict between self and the other party while maintaining the game's underlying structure. Our findings indicate that significant differences in choice behaviour are observed as a function of both situational (i.e. manipulations of the Prisoner's Dilemma Game's payoff structure) and personality differences (i.e. individual differences in personality and motivational traits). Moreover, our included situational variables and personality features did not interact with each other and were about equally impactful in shaping cooperation. Crucially, however, despite the significant behavioural differences across game variants, considerable consistency in choices was found as well, which suggests that the game's motivational basis reliably impacts choice behaviour in spite of situational and personality variations. We discuss implications for theorizing on mixed–motive situations and elaborate on the question how cooperation can be promoted. © 2018 European Association of Personality Psychology
Date made available2020

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