Fairness concerns and cooperation in context

Research output: ThesisDoctoral thesis 1 (Research UU / Graduation UU)


Interaction settings offering identical choices result in different behaviour when they are presented in different frames or when they are conducted in different contexts. This thesis investigates the influence of various contexts on people’s fairness and fairness-driven cooperative behaviour. We are particularly interested in the effect of the social context, the strategic context and the cultural context on individuals’ cooperative behaviour and fairness-concerns.
First we present a network game where players are located on nodes of certain networks with different degrees of symmetry and transitivity and their decisions depend on the actions taken by their neighbours in the network. Assuming that people are not exclusively self-interested, we develop a theory of marginal fairness-concerns by imposing an interaction structure on a local public good decision situation. We discuss how various degrees of influence between individuals affect their behaviour and how fairness-concerns affect subjects’ behaviour based on their positions.
The second part of this dissertation presents a model of behaviour where players have heterogeneous roles in various interaction settings. Next to the utilities caused by inequality of payoffs, the model assumes that subjects benefit from the social-welfare resulting from their contributions. This model enables us to scrutinize the effect of fairness-concerns on decisions of advantaged and disadvantaged players within and between different interactional contexts. Further, we test the precision of the theoretical predictions of the model by employing some experimental data from cooperation and coordination games to understand how fairness-concerns change the number of Nash equilibria in various interactional settings.
The third part of this dissertation looks at the individuals’ from a more general perspective. It assumes that culture, as a set of collective norms, affects social interactions. By investigating the effect of cultural orientation of individuals on their cooperative behaviour, we try to explain behavioural differences. We examine laboratory experiments with participants from the relatively more individually-oriented West and participants from the relatively more collectively-oriented countries in Asia.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Utrecht University
  • Rosenkranz, Stephanie, Primary supervisor
  • Westbrock, B., Co-supervisor
Award date28 Oct 2016
Print ISBNs978-94-91870-20-0
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2016


  • Fairness concerns
  • cooperation
  • social and economic networks
  • culture
  • laboratory experiment


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