An uncertain environment increases willingness to cooperate
Cooperation increases in an environment where the risk of disasters and setbacks is substantial. With different levels and types of uncertainties surrounding a disaster, cooperation is higher in countries with different disaster risk exposures - Sweden, South Africa, and the Philippines.
In her dissertation, Marijane Luistro Jonsson uses experiments to examine cooperation. In these you pay a cost for others to receive a benefit.
The results show that contributions are always greater under uncertain conditions. Cooperation tends to increase when we do not know when a disaster will occur, if we do not know how much we will lose, and if we do not know what level of cooperation is needed to avoid disaster. Contributions are also greater if some members of the group have more to contribute than others.
“The results are encouraging because they show that when the risk of being exposed to disasters is high, this is a driving force for cooperation. However, the experiment shows that receiving information on the degree of probability of a disaster is important in order for cooperation to increase, no matter how meagre that information is,” says Marijane Luistro Jonsson.
At a researcher network day at Karolinska Institutet’s Centre for Social Sustainability, Marijane Luistro Jonsson was recently awarded SEK 15,000 for her promising research ideas. The prize is intended to help further develop these ideas through experiments showing how biological factors affect decision-making in disasters, as well as the role played by empathy in such situations.