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What we need is theory of human cooperation (and meta-analysis) to bridge the gap between the lab and the wild

  • Paul A. M. Van Lange (a1), Daniel P. Balliet (a1) and Hans IJzerman (a1)

This commentary seeks to clarify the potential discrepancy between lab-based and field data in the use and effectiveness of punishment to promote cooperation by recommending theory that outlines key differences between the lab and field, such as the shadow of the future and degree of information availability. We also discuss a recent meta-analysis (Balliet et al. 2011) that does not support all conclusions outlined in Guala's target article.

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D. Balliet , L. B. Moulder & P. A. M. Van Lange (2011) Reward, punishment, and cooperation: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin 137(4):594615. Available at:

E. Fehr & S. Gächter (2002) Altruistic punishment in humans. Nature 415(6868):137–40. Available at:

H. IJzerman & S. L. Koole (2011) From perceptual rags to metaphoric riches: Bodily, social, and cultural constraints on sociocognitive metaphors. Psychological Bulletin 137:355–61.

P. A. M. Van Lange , A. Klapwijk & L. Van Munster (2011) How the shadow of the future might promote cooperation. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations. 14:857–70.

P. A. M. Van Lange , J. W. Ouwerkerk & M. J. A. Tazelaar (2002) How to overcome the detrimental effects of noise in social interaction: The benefits of generosity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82:768–80.

P. A. M. Van Lange & C. E. Rusbult (2012) Interdependence theory. In: Handbook of theories of social psychology, vol. 2, ed. P. A. M. Van Lange , A. W. Kruglanski & E. T. Higgins , pp. 251–72. Sage.

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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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