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The cognitive basis of social behavior: cognitive reflection overrides antisocial but not always prosocial motives

Author

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  • Brice Corgnet

    () (Economic Science Institute, Argyros School of Business and Economics, Chapman University)

  • Antonio M. Espín

    (Economics Department, Middlesex University Business School and Granada Lab of Behavioral Economics (GLoBE), Universidad de Granada)

  • Roberto Hernán-González

    (Granada Lab of Behavioral Economics (GLoBE), Universidad de Granada and Business School, University of Nottingham)

Abstract

Even though human social behavior has received considerable scientific attention in the last decades, its cognitive underpinnings are still poorly understood. Applying a dual-process framework to the study of social preferences, we show in two studies that individuals with a more reflective/deliberative cognitive style, as measured by scores on the Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT), are more likely to make choices consistent with “mild” altruism in simple non-strategic decisions. Such choices increase social welfare by increasing the other person’s payoff at very low or no cost for the individual. The choices of less reflective individuals (i.e. those who rely more heavily on intuition), on the other hand, are more likely to be associated with either egalitarian or spiteful motives. We also identify a negative link between reflection and choices characterized by “strong” altruism, but this result holds only in Study 2. Moreover, we provide evidence that the relationship between social preferences and CRT scores is not driven by general intelligence. We discuss how our results can reconcile some previous conflicting findings on the cognitive basis of social behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Brice Corgnet & Antonio M. Espín & Roberto Hernán-González, 2015. "The cognitive basis of social behavior: cognitive reflection overrides antisocial but not always prosocial motives," Working Papers 15-04, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:chu:wpaper:15-04
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Brice Corgnet & Mark DeSantis & David Porter, 2015. "What Makes a Good Trader? On the Role of Quant Skills, Behavioral Biases and Intuition on Trader Performance," Working Papers 15-17, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    2. Pablo Brañas-Garza & Praveen Kujal & Balint Lenkei, 2015. "Cognitive Reflection Test: Whom, how, when," Working Papers 15-25, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    3. Brice Corgnet & Antonio M. Espin & Roberto Hernán-Gonzalez, 2016. "Creativity and Cognitive Skills among Millennials: Thinking Too Much and Creating Too Little," Post-Print halshs-01439169, HAL.
    4. Cabrales, Antonio & Espin, Antonio & Kujal, Praveen & Rassenti, Stephen, 2017. "Humans' (incorrect) distrust of reflective decisions," CEPR Discussion Papers 11949, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Sheremeta, Roman, 2016. "Impulsive Behavior in Competition: Testing Theories of Overbidding in Rent-Seeking Contests," MPRA Paper 73731, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Roman Sheremeta, 2018. "Impulsive Behavior in Competition: Testing Theories of Overbidding in Rent-Seeking Contests," Working Papers 18-03, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    7. Goeschl, Timo & Lohse, Johannes, 2016. "Cooperation in Public Good Games. Calculated or Confused?," Working Papers 0626, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    8. repec:spr:jhappi:v:19:y:2018:i:2:d:10.1007_s10902-016-9828-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Nobuyuki Hanaki & Nicolas Jacquemet & Stéphane Luchini & Adam Zylbersztejn, 2016. "Fluid intelligence and cognitive reflection in a strategic environment: evidence from dominance-solvable games," PSE - Labex "OSE-Ouvrir la Science Economique" hal-01359231, HAL.
    10. Espín, Antonio M. & Exadaktylos, Filippos & Neyse, Levent, 2016. "Heterogeneous Motives in the Trust Game: A Tale of Two Roles," Open Access Publications from Kiel Institute for the World Economy 141321, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW).
    11. repec:kap:enreec:v:67:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10640-016-0029-z is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    dual-process; reflection; intuition; social preferences; altruism; spitefulness; prosocial behavior; antisocial behavior; inequality aversion;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • D87 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Neuroeconomics

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