Junhui Wu

Hello, welcome to my webpage!

I am Junhui, currently a research assistant professor at the Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. I obtained my bachelor degree in Psychology (Anhui Normal University), and master degree in Social Psychology (Beijing Normal University) in China. I completed my doctorate at the Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. I became interested in the topic of human cooperation since 2009 when I started my master studies. I investigated how social value orientation and emotions influence cooperation in social dilemmas for my master thesis, and joined Amsterdam Cooperation Lab in September 2012. Together with Dr. Daniel Balliet and Prof. dr. Paul A. M. Van Lange, my PhD project mainly focuses on (a) how people respond to different cues of gossip and reputation and adjust their cooperation accordingly, and (b) the underlying mechanisms explaining this phenomenon of gossip-based cooperation. We also examine the relative effectiveness and efficiency of gossip, compared to other incentive systems (e.g., punishment), in promoting and maintaining cooperation.


Gossip and generosity: Indirect reciprocity under the shadow of the future (with Daniel Balliet and Paul A. M. Van Lange)

In this project, we propose that gossip promotes cooperation when one anticipates future interdependence with the gossip recipient (Hypothesis 1), that this effect is more pronounced for proself, compared to prosocial, individuals (Hypothesis 2), and explore the mediating role of reputational concern and expected indirect benefits on the relation between gossip and cooperation. Results from three studies supported these hypotheses, showing that people are more generous in response to gossip to their future interaction partner(s), compared with gossip to other(s) they would never meet or no gossip. Moreover, proselfs, compared with prosocials, showed a larger increase in generosity when they anticipated future interactions with the gossip recipient(s). The observed gossip-based generosity was primarily mediated by reputational concern rather than expected indirect benefits from future partners, and the mediation of reputational concern was more pronounced for proselfs than for prosocials.

Reputation management in social networks (with Daniel Balliet and Paul A. M. Van Lange)

In this project, we advance a framework for understanding why and how gossip may promote generosity and cooperation, especially in situations that can result in greater indirect benefits from others. Drawing on evolutionary theory, we derive novel hypotheses about how two reliably recurring properties of human social networks – they are “small” and contain fewer well-connected people – provide insight about when people may maximize indirect benefits of generosity. Across three studies, we find support for the hypothesis that people increase their generosity when the recipient (or an observer) is connected and can gossip to at least one or many others whom they might interact with in the future. Moreover, reputational concern, rather than expected indirect benefits from one’s future partners, primarily mediated this observed gossip-based generosity, and the mediation effect of reputational concern was statistically more pronounced for proselfs than for prosocials.

Gossip Versus Punishment in Promoting and Maintaining Cooperation (with Daniel Balliet and Paul A. M. Van Lange)

In this project, we compared the relative ability of gossip and punishment to (a) promote cooperation, (b) increase individual welfare, and (c) maintain cooperation even when these mechanisms do not exist in future interactions. Through an online real-time experiment, we found that the option to gossip and share reputational information about each other made people more cooperative, receive more benefits from social interactions, and tend to be more trusting and trustworthy in future interactions when there were no such mechanisms. However, the option to punish each other did not affect cooperation, and significantly decreased individual earnings. These findings suggest that gossip may be more effective and efficient than punishment to promote and maintain cooperation.

PUBLICATIONS (* corresponding author)

  • Balliet, D.*, Tybur, J. M., Wu, J., Antonellis, C., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (in press). Political ideology, political coalitions, and trust and cooperation: In-group favoritism before and after a U.S. national election. Journal of Conflict Resolution.
  • Wu, J.*, Balliet, D., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2016). Reputation, gossip, and human cooperation. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 10, 350–364. doi: 10.1111/spc3.12255

  • Wu, J.*, Balliet, D., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2016). Gossip versus punishment: The efficiency of reputation to promote and maintain cooperation. Scientific Reports, 6, 23919. doi: 10.1038/srep23919

  • Wu, J.*, Balliet, D., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2016). Reputation management: Why and how gossip enhances generosity. Evolution and Human Behavior, 37, 193–201. doi: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2015.11.001

  •  Wu, J.*, Balliet, D., & Van Lange, P. A. M. (2015). When does gossip promote generosity? Indirect reciprocity under the shadow of the future. Social Psychological and Personality Science. 6, 923-930. doi: 10.1177/1948550615595272
  • Balliet, D.*Wu, J., & De Dreu, C. K. W. (2014). Ingroup favoritism in cooperation: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin. 140, 1556-1581. doi: 10.1037/a0037737


You can download my CV here.


Email: junhui.wu@hotmail.com