Intrinsic motivation and outer sanctions as drivers of prosocial behaviour

Why do we cooperate? This project studies drivers of cooperation, generosity and pro social behaviour.

Why do we cooperate? In some cases selfish motivations drives what might seem to be unselfish actions. This is for example the case with good deeds are motivated by hopes of future rewards, services or fear of punishment. In these cases one can speak of outer sanctions, in the form of other people's future actions, that motivates a selfish individual to act generously. In other cases acts of generosity, cooperation and sharing are carried out without any hopes of future rewards - our actions are in these cases motivated by some intrinsic drive. Perhaps notions of right and wrong, empathy or a wish to be a certain kind of person (good). 

In this project drivers behind generosity and other kinds of prosocial behaviour is studied. Intrinsic motivation is contrasted with outer sanctions. For this purpose three models from game theory is studied. Game theory is a mathematical framework to describe interactive decision situations.




Principal Investigator

Erik Mohlin Associate Professor, Economics

Project members

Alexandros Rigos PhD, Economics


Swedish Research Council