Personality has a long history in the field of social dilemmas. Because most social dilemmas involve a social conflict (between individual and collective interests) and a temporal conflict (between immediate and delayed interests), researchers have been interested in studying individual differences related to these social and temporal dimensions (e.g., Messick & Brewer, 1983; Van Lange & Joireman, 2008). On this page, we briefly describe two individual differences relevant to the social and temporal dimensions (social value orientation and consideration of future consequences) and provide measures and scoring instructions for each.
Social Value Orientation (Social Dimension):
One of the most heavily studied individual differences is Social Value Orientation (SVO). SVO is defined in terms of the weights people assign to their own and others’ outcomes in situations of interdependence (Messick & McClintock, 1968). Over the past 40 years, many studies have linked SVO with behavior in social dilemmas.
Recently, a number of excellent SVO reviews have been published, each adopting a slightly different perspective (Au & Kwong, 2004; Balliet, Parks, & Joireman, 2009; Bogaert, Boone, & Declerck, 2008; Van Lange, De Cremer, Van Dijk, & Van Vugt, 2007). A recent meta-analysis (Balliet et al., 2009) indicated that, overall, SVO has a significant small to medium effect size on cooperation in social dilemmas (r = .30), with the effect size being larger when participants are not paid (r = .39) than when they are paid (r = .23), and being larger in give-some (r = .29) as opposed to take-some (r = .22) games.
The Decomposed Game Measure of SVO
Early research on SVO was inspired by Messick and McClintock (1968) who pioneered a technique for measuring motives in social dilemmas known as the decomposed game. In a decomposed game, participants choose between options that offer points to the self and another person. Participants are asked to imagine they will not meet or interact with the other, and they receive no feedback about the choices of the other person. These conditions eliminate strategic considerations from the choice. As such, choices in the decomposed games are usually taken as an indication of a person’s social values or motives.
An example of a decomposed game is shown below. Here, a cooperator would choose Option A, as it maximizes joint gain and equality (Van Lange, 1999), an individualist would choose Option B, as it maximizes own gain, and a competitor would choose Option C, as it maximizes one’s relative advantage over the other person. A recent SVO review by Au and Kwong (2004) suggests that most people are classified as cooperators (46%), followed by individualists (38%), followed by competitors (12%). Typically, cooperators and equality maximizers are referred to as prosocials, while individualists and competitors are combined into a group of proselfs, given the small percentage of competitors.
Example of a Decomposed Game for Assessing Social Value Orientation
A B C
Points to Self 500 600 500
Points to Other 500 200 0
Commonly Used Sets of Decomposed Games
Triple Dominance Measure (download TDM here)
The most commonly used measure of SVO is the 9-item triple dominance measure (Van Lange, Otten, DeBruin, & Joireman, 1997. This measure is brief and very easy to administer and score. Typically, respondents are classified as cooperators, individualists, or competitors if they make 6 out of 9 choices consistent with a certain social value orientation, though alternative approaches are possible. For example, if a person makes 6 choices consistent with either an individualistic or competitive orientation, it would be possible to classify them (more broadly) as proselfs.
Ring Measure (download ring measure here)
Another commonly used instrument is the ring measure of SVO (Liebrand & McClintock, 1988; Roch & Samuelson, 1997). Typically, the ring measure involves a series of 24 choices between two options (though, in theory, it could involve more or less choices). The payoffs in each option are the X, Y coordinates for a point on the two-dimensional social value orientation space (X = concern with self, Y = concern with others). For example, if the SVO space is defined using a radius (or vector length) of 100, we can define two points (the coordinates of which end up being the options in a decomposed game). Option A: assume that the point corresponding to option A is located at 0 degrees; this option would have the coordinates (100 to self, 0 to other). Option B: assume the point corresponding to option B is located at 45 degrees; this option would have the coordinates (71 to self, 71 to other). If given a choice between these two options, a proself would choose option A while a prosocial would choose option B. The ring measure involves making a series of choices between adjacent points on the two-dimensional SVO space. The choices are converted into an angle with a corresponding vector length. A prototypical prosocial would have an angle of 45 degrees, a prototypical individualist would have an angle of 0 degrees, and a prototypical competitor would have an angle of -45 degrees. The vector length, in turn, is a measure of the reliability of a respondent’s choices. Longer vector lengths reflect a more consistent choice pattern, and participants are often dropped if their vector length is less than 60%. The ring measure takes longer to administer and it normally involves both positive and negative numbers (though it is possible to eliminate the negative numbers by shifting the origin of the circle). In any case, it is not quite as straightforward as the triple dominance measure, but it can provide a more continuous measure of SVO (the SVO angle).
On the Importance of Equality
As we have noted, participants are normally classified as prosocials or proselfs. When this is done, it is important to recognize that prosocials can be motivated by a desire to enhance joint gain or equality. Van Lange (1999) advanced an integrative model of social value orientation which accounts for the weight prosocials attach to equality, and he outlined a method for estimating the importance attached to equality. More recently, Eek and Garling (2006) showed that prosocials are primarily driven to maximize equality. This has important implications for theorizing about the effects of SVO on choice behavior and researchers interested in using SVO are encouraged to consider how concern with equality impacts their theorizing.
Other Creative Approaches
Ryan Murphy has developed a web site where you can administer different forms of the decomposed games, including his “slider measure” of SVO in which each participant uses a slider tool to decide the payoffs, rather than choosing between pre-determined payoffs.
Au, W. T., & Kwong, Y. Y. (2004). Measurements and effects of social-value orientation in social dilemmas: A review. In R. Suleiman, D. V. Budescu, I. Fischer, & D. M. Messick (Eds.), Contemporary research on social dilemmas (pp. 71-98). New York: Cambridge University Press.
Balliet, D., Parks, C. D., & Joireman, J. (2009). Social value orientation and cooperation: A meta-analysis. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 12, 533-547.
Bogaert, S., Boone, C., & Declerck, C. (2008). Social value orientation and cooperation in social dilemmas: A review and conceptual model. British Journal of Social Psychology, 47, 453-480.
Eek, D., & Garling, T. (2006). Prosocials prefer equal outcomes to maximizing joint outcomes. British Journal of Social Psychology, 45, 321-337.
Liebrand, W. B., & McClintock, C. G. (1988). The ring measure of social values: A computerized procedure for assessing individual differences in information processing and social value orientation. European Journal of Personality, 2, 217-230.
Messick, D. M., & McClintock, C. G. (1968). Motivational basis for choice in experimental games. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 4, 1-25.
Roch, S. G., & Samuelson, C. D. (1997). Effects of environmental uncertainty and social value orientation in resource dilemmas. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 70, 221-235.
Van Lange, P. A. M. (1999). The pursuit of joint outcomes and equality in outcomes: An integrative model of social value orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 337-349.
Van Lange, P. A. M., De Cremer, D., Van Dijk, E., & Van Vugt, M. (2007). Self-interest and beyond: Basic principles of social interaction. In A. W. Kruglanski & E. T. Higgins (Eds.), Social psychology: Handbook of basic principles (pp. 540-561). New York: Guilford.
Van Lange, P. A. M., Otten, W., De Bruin, E., & Joireman, J. A. (1997). Development of prosocial, individualistic, and competitive orientations: Theory and preliminary evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 733-746.
Consideration of Future Consequences (Temporal Dimension)
The CFC Scale (download scale here)
Individual differences in the consideration of future consequences reflect “the extent to which people consider the potential distant outcomes of their current behaviors and the extent to which they are influenced by these potential outcomes” (Strathman, Gleicher, Boninger, & Edwards, 1994, p. 743). Strathman et al.’s 12-item CFC scale has typically been assumed to contain one underlying fractor. Internal reliability for the overall, 12-item scale is high (typically ranging from .80 to .85) with a five-week temporal stability of .72 (Strathman et al., 1994). While the internal reliability of the overall scale is quite high, recent research suggests the scale contains two subscales, one tapping consideration of immediate consequences (CFC-I), the other tapping consideration of future consequences (CFC-F) (Joireman, Balliet, Sprott, Spangenberg, & Schultz, 2008). Thus, researchers are encouraged to examine both subscales in their data.
CFC in Social Dilemmas
In the social dilemma literature, individual differences in CFC have mainly been studied in applied settings such as organizational citizenship behaviors (Joireman, Kamdar, Daniels, & Duell, 2006), commuting decisions (Joireman, Van Lange, & Van Vugt, 2004), support for structural solutions to social dilemmas (Joireman, Van Lange, Van Vugt, Wood, Vander Leest, & Lambert, 2001), and proenvironmental decision making (Joireman, Lasane, Bennett, Richards, & Solaimani, 2001), though at least two studies have shown meaningful links between CFC and decision-making in lab-based resource dilemmas (Joireman, Posey, Truelove, & Parks, 2009; Kortenkamp & Moore, 2004) (for a recent review of the CFC literature, see Joireman, Strathman, & Balliet, 2006).
Concern and Awareness Models of CFC
Joireman et al. (2006b) have outlined several models to account for how CFC impacts behavior. According to the awareness (or mediation) model, individual differences in CFC influence the perceived consequences of an action, which in turn influence the outcome of interest. For example, an individual high in CFC may be more likely to engage in proenvironmental behavior because they are aware that this behavior has positive long-term consequences for the planet. According to the concern (or moderation) model, CFC influences the sensitivity to immediate vs. delayed consequences of an action. In this case, two individuals, one low, the other high in CFC may be equally convinced that driving a car is bad for the environment, but those high in CFC are less likely to drive than those low in CFC, because those high in CFC are more concerned with those delayed consequences. It is also possible that both the models apply simultaneously. In a final “integrative model”, Joireman et al. (2006b) positioned CFC within the context of a host of broader individual differences, and linked CFC with temporal discounting, delay of gratification, and temporal construal.
Other Measures of Time Orientation
Over the past 15 years, at least two other measures have been introduced to capture the construct of time orientation (cf. Lasane and O’Donnell 2005 for an extended discussion of the measurement of time orientation). In 1999, Zimbardo and Boyd published the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory, a 56-item measure that taps five dimensions of time orientation including future orientation, past positive orientation, past negative orientation, present hedonistic orientation, and present fatalistic orientation. And, most recently, Nenkov and colleagues (2008) developed the 13-item Elaboration on Potential Outcomes scale composed of three subscales including generation/evaluation (considering how current behaviors impact future outcomes), positive outcome focus (optimism about future outcomes), and negative outcome focus (pessimism and or worry about negative future outcomes). Each of these scales has amassed strong support for its validity, and each, we believe, could yield valuable insights into decision-making in social dilemmas, but these two scales have not, to our knowledge, been used in the dilemmas literature.
Joireman, J., Balliet, D., Sprott, D., Spangenberg, E., & Schultz, J. (2008). Consideration of future consequences, ego-depletion, and self-control: Support for distinguishing between CFC-immediate and CFC-future sub-scales. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 15-21.
Joireman, J., Kamdar, D., Daniels, D., & Duell, B. (2006a). Good citizens to the end? It depends: Empathy and concern with future consequences moderate the impact of a short-term time horizon on OCBs. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 1307-1320.
Joireman, J. A., Lasane, T. P., Bennett, J., Richards, D., & Solaimani, S. (2001). Integrating social value orientation and the consideration of future consequences within the extended norm activation model of proenvironmental behavior. British Journal of Social Psychology, 40, 133-155.
Joireman, J., Posey, D. C., Barnes Truelove, H., & Parks, C. D. (2009). The environmentalist who cried drought: Reactions to repeated warnings about depleting resources under conditions of uncertainty. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 181-192.
Joireman, J., Strathman, A., & Balliet, D. (2006b). Considering future consequences: An integrative model. In L. Sanna & E. Chang (Eds.), Judgments over time: The interplay of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (82-99). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Joireman, J., Van Lange, P. A. M., & Van Vugt, M. (2004). Who cares about the environmental impact of cars? Those with an eye toward the future. Environment and Behavior, 36, 187-206.
Joireman, J. A., Van Lange, P. A. M., Van Vugt, M., Wood, A., Vander Leest, T., & Lambert, C. (2001). Structural solutions to social dilemmas: A field study on commuters' willingness to fund improvements in public transit. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 31, 504-526.
Kortenkamp, K. V., & Moore, C. F. (2006). Time, uncertainty, and individual differences in decisions to cooperate in resource dilemmas. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 32, 603-615.
Lasane, T. P., & O'Donnell, D. A. (2005). Time Orientation Measurement: A Conceptual Approach. In Alan Strathman and Jeff Joireman (Eds.), Understanding Behavior in the Context of Time: Theory, Research, and Application (pp. 11-30). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Nenkov, G. Y., Inman, J. J., & Hulland, J. (2008). Considering the Future: The Conceptualization and Measurement of Elaboration on Potential Outcomes. Journal of Consumer Research, 35: 126-141.
Strathman, A., Gleicher, F., Boninger, D. S., & Edwards, C. S. (1994). The consideration of future consequences: Weighing immediate and distant outcomes of behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 742-752.
Van Lange, P. A. M., & Joireman, J. (2008). How we can promote behavior that serves all of us in the future. Social Issues and Policy Review, 2, 127-157.
Zimbardo, P. G., & Boyd, J. N. (1999). Putting time in perspective: A valid, reliable individual differences metric. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1271-1288.