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Nat Commun. 2014 Apr 22;5:3677. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4677.

Social heuristics shape intuitive cooperation.

Author information

1
1] Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA [2] Department of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA [3] Yale School of Management, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA [4].
2
1] Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA [2] Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA [3].
3
Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA.
4
Yale School of Management, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06511, USA.
5
1] Program for Evolutionary Dynamics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA [2] Department of Mathematics, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA [3] Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.
6
Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA.

Abstract

Cooperation is central to human societies. Yet relatively little is known about the cognitive underpinnings of cooperative decision making. Does cooperation require deliberate self-restraint? Or is spontaneous prosociality reined in by calculating self-interest? Here we present a theory of why (and for whom) intuition favors cooperation: cooperation is typically advantageous in everyday life, leading to the formation of generalized cooperative intuitions. Deliberation, by contrast, adjusts behaviour towards the optimum for a given situation. Thus, in one-shot anonymous interactions where selfishness is optimal, intuitive responses tend to be more cooperative than deliberative responses. We test this 'social heuristics hypothesis' by aggregating across every cooperation experiment using time pressure that we conducted over a 2-year period (15 studies and 6,910 decisions), as well as performing a novel time pressure experiment. Doing so demonstrates a positive average effect of time pressure on cooperation. We also find substantial variation in this effect, and show that this variation is partly explained by previous experience with one-shot lab experiments.

PMID:
24751464
DOI:
10.1038/ncomms4677
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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