PhD defense Simon Columbus: Tuesday, July 7th 13:45

Simon Columbus will defend his PhD-thesis entitled “Subjective Interdependence and Prosocial Behavior” on Tuesday 7 July at 13:45.
You can follow his defense online. You can find the link to the livestream here

Understanding our interdependence with others helps us navigate our social environment and shapes our behaviour and relationships. People experience a great variety of situations in everyday life: We cuddle and squabble with partners at home, collaborate and compete with colleagues at work, or encounter and avoid strangers in public spaces. These situations vary in interdependence—in the control we have over our own and other’s outcomes in a situation, whether these outcomes are happiness, reputation, or money.

In my dissertation, I studied how people experience their interdependence with others and how this shapes their behaviour and relationships. I focus on three dimensions of interdependence: Mutual dependence, conflict of interests, and power. Using experience sampling—short surveys participants can answer multiple times a day—I was able to map out people’s experiences in everyday life. I combined this with economic games, in which objective interdependence can be manipulated experimentally.

Experience sampling uncovered a vast diversity of interdependent situations. However, most situations were benign, involving medium to high mutual dependent, more corresponding than conflicting interests, and a balance of power. These are conditions conducive to cooperation: People behaved more prosocially towards romantic partners, colleagues, and strangers in situations marked by greater mutual dependence and lower conflict of interests. These experiences accumulate over time: Repeated experiences of conflict of interests can undermine relationships.