Characteristics of affected third parties and cooperative behavior in social dilemmas

Maria Teresa Cardador, Gregory B Northcraft, Kevin W. Rockmann, Brandon C. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The studies described in this article explore the influence of an under-emphasized determinant of cooperative behavior in social dilemmas: affected third parties. Two experiments examined the effect of characteristics of third parties on individual cooperative behavior in social dilemmas, and identified mechanisms associated with these relationships. Study 1 demonstrated that third-party need affects individual cooperative behavior, and tested prosocial motivation and intra-group trust as mediators of this relationship. Study 2 provided further elaboration by demonstrating that individual cooperative behavior was reduced when a needy third party was low on reliability, and by showing that prosocial motivation and intra-group trust mediated this relationship. This research connects the literatures on individual cooperation in social dilemmas and relational job design, and demonstrates why third parties influence individuals’ cooperative behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-580
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Cooperation
  • intra-group trust
  • prosocial motivation
  • social dilemmas
  • third-party beneficiaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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