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Can education affect pro‐social behavior? Cops, economists and humanists in social dilemmas

Ali Ahmed (Centre for Labour Market Policy Research, Växjö University, Växjö, Sweden)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 14 March 2008




The purpose of this paper is to examine whether education and training affect pro‐social behavior. Economics students are often accused of being less pro‐social. The explanations given are that less pro‐social people choose to study economics or that economics studies indoctrinate students to selfish behavior. The paper experimentally tests these postulations.


The paper uses the prisoner's dilemma game and stag hunt game to study cooperation across different groups of students.


The experiment supports neither of the postulations: economics students would be indoctrinated or less pro‐social people choose to study economics. However, the study shows that police cadets, who go through an education where teamwork and cooperation is promoted, become more cooperative and pro‐social after their completed education.


In contrast to earlier studies, this paper does not simply study economics students, but also examines if students in educational programs that promote loyalty and cooperation and encourage teamwork are more pro‐social than other students.



Ahmed, A. (2008), "Can education affect pro‐social behavior? Cops, economists and humanists in social dilemmas", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 298-307.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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