Exploring the impact of positive and negative emotions on cooperative behaviour in a Prisoner’s Dilemma Game


Objective. To explore the influences of discrete positive and negative emotions on cooperation in the context of a social dilemma game. Design. Two controlled studies were undertaken. In Study 1, 69 participants were randomly assigned to an essay emotion manipulation task designed to induce either guilt, joy or no strong emotion. In Study 2, 95 participants were randomly assigned to one of the same three tasks, and the impact of emotional condition on cooperation was explored using a repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma Game. Results. Study 1 established that the manipulation task was successful in inducing the specified emotions. The analysis from Study 2 revealed no significant main effects for emotions, in contrast to previous research. However, there was a significant effect for participants’ pre-existing tendency to cooperate (social value orientation; SVO). Conclusion. Methodological explanations for the result are explored, including the possible impact of trial-and-error strategies, different cooperation games and endogenous vs exogenous emotions.

Oscar Kjell
Oscar Kjell

I’m a researcher in Psychology interested measuring psychological construct with words and text responses analyzed with AI. In particular I am interested in well-being, harmony in life and sustainable living. I’m currently funded for an international postdoc at the Computer Science Department at Stony Brook University and and University of Copenhagen. I am also carrying out research at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies at Lund University.