The Carrot, Not the Stick, Works Best to Encourage Cooperation

By Allison Bond | September 4, 2009 2:50 pm

carrot and stickIf you’re trying to get people to work together, carrots may prove more useful than sticks–that is, rewarding cooperation might motivate people more than punishing them, according to a study published in Science.

Test subjects played the “public goods game,” in which they have to decide whether or not to donate money to the group’s pot. The pot is multiplied and redistributed equally, regardless of who contributes and who doesn’t. When people play a pure version of the game, the temptation to freeload – reap the rewards without contributing anything – often leads to rapidly disintegrating cooperation [New Scientist]. But researchers found that when players were given the choice to either reward their fellow players for good behavior, or punish them for failing to donate, rewarding others yielded a larger payoff for the group as a whole. Groups that could reward each other earned much higher payoffs than those that could only punish, or those that could do neither [ScienceBlogs].

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Image: iStockPhoto

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  • Christina Viering

    Interesting study.

  • Jacob

    I think the most imporortant application of this study would be for parenting, although it seems more geared toward the work environment.
    Anyone know of any studies that say punishment is good for raising kids?

  • Faye Louissaint

    Where is the owner’s contact us section because i cant seem to locate the section, prehaps the site owner could make it more easier to see.

  • Elva Taggart

    I like the look and all but for some reason this post took forever to load up, anyone else having the same issue?


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