The secrets of cooperation
Posted on July 13, 2015
Several years ago (well, OK, in 2012) I did an interview for “Nature and Health” on the subject of cooperation (http://www.natureandhealth.com.au/news/create-cooperation). Looking back, I am very impressed by how the interviewer paraphrased what I had to say, and I still stand by the ten rules (based on scientific studies) that I came up with:
- Stay if you win, shift if you lose If your choice between cooperating and using an independent, non-cooperative strategy turns out to be a winner, stick with it.
- Bring an extra player in If you are embroiled in a battle of wills and getting nowhere, bring in a third person to uphold a bond or enforce a contract.
- Set up some form of reciprocity An important incentive for cooperation is knowing you will have to interact with the other party again.
- 4. Restrict your future options so you will lose out if you don’t cooperate This shows your credibility, such as burning your bridges so you cannot renege.
- Offer trust If you genuinely offer trust, trust will often be returned, making cooperation much easier.
- Create a situation that neither party can independently escape from without loss.
- Use side payments to create and maintain cooperative coalitions This can be money, social or emotional rewards.
- Reorganise the benefits and costs to avoid falling foul of dilemmas
- Divide goods, responsibilities, jobs and penalties Our sense of fairness is a strong motivator; tap into this by making situations transparent and agreed upon.
- Divide larger groups into smaller ones Evidence suggests cooperation is much easier in smaller groups.