Global Discourse
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Cooperation and social policy: integrating evidence into practice – Introduction to the Issue

Author: John Lazarus1
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  • 1 Newcastle University, , UK
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How can research evidence on cooperation best be exploited to the advantage of social policy? In this issue we bring together behavioural researchers with expertise in cooperation and social policy practitioners to work together on a series of issues in social policy for which the major challenge is for the players involved to cooperate for the common good. In this introductory paper I first explain the nature of cooperation, its potential for the collective good and the obstacles to achieving that potential. After a brief review of behavioural research applications to social policy, I summarise evidence for the many factors that promote cooperation in experimental and real world settings and that might be employed in the policy arena. These factors represent the influence of a small number of motivational influences including reciprocity, fairness, reputation, group identification and social norms. Analysis of the research findings reveals ways in which the real world difficulties in promoting action for the common good might be overcome. Evolutionary behavioural analysis adds additional insights useful for policy development. Beyond the value of the individual contributions the issue as a whole has the potential to uncover new understanding of the relationships between policy problems and their solutions.

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  • 1 Newcastle University, , UK

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