Two laboratory studies investigated how groups may deal with the strong emotions that social dilemmas often elicit. A first study showed that a new group member evaluated guilt communicated by a fellow group member as more instrumental than neutral emotion feedback when the amount of required resources to obtain the public good (i.e., provision point) was perceived as difficult to obtain. A second study revealed that participants use communicated guilt to draw inferences about both past and future contributions from all fellow group members. Participants also contributed more themselves and adhered to equality more often when guilt versus no emotion was communicated, but only when the provision point was high. Expected contributions from fellow group members mediated this effect.

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ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Wubben, M., de Cremer, D., & van Dijk, E. (2009). When and how communicated guilt affects contributions in public good dilemmas. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45(1), 15–23. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2008.07.015