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Cooperating, fast and slow: Testing the social heuristics hypothesis

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Are humans intuitively cooperative, or do we need to deliberate in order to be generous to others? The Social Heuristics Hypothesis (SHH) proposes that fast instinctive decision making promotes cooperation in social dilemmas. In this paper, we conduct a novel time-pressure experiment to shed light on the cognitive underpinnings of cooperation. Although we find no evidence for a time-pressure effect when considering all subjects, our results, together with a re-analysis of independent data, indicate that a single factor – payoff comprehension – accounts for some studies failure to replicate the finding that fast and intuitive decision making promotes cooperation. Given payoff comprehension, the SHH predicts behavior well. We believe this finding provides a unifying interpretation of the conflicting results in the literature.

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  • Strømland, Eirik & Tjøtta, Sigve & Torsvik, Gaute, 2016. "Cooperating, fast and slow: Testing the social heuristics hypothesis," Working Papers in Economics 02/16, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:bergec:2016_002
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    1. James W. Friedman, 1971. "A Non-cooperative Equilibrium for Supergames," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 1-12.
    2. Engel, Christoph & Rand, David G., 2014. "What does “clean” really mean? The implicit framing of decontextualized experiments," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 122(3), pages 386-389.
    3. Ellingsen, Tore & Johannesson, Magnus & Mollerstrom, Johanna & Munkhammar, Sara, 2012. "Social framing effects: Preferences or beliefs?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 76(1), pages 117-130.
    4. Gaute Torsvik & Anders Molander & Sigve Tjøtta & Therese Kobbeltvedt, 2011. "Anticipated discussion and cooperation in a social dilemma," Rationality and Society, , vol. 23(2), pages 199-216, May.
    5. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-475, March.
    6. Binmore, Ken, 2005. "Natural Justice," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195178111.
    7. Nick Feltovich, 2003. "Nonparametric Tests of Differences in Medians: Comparison of the Wilcoxon–Mann–Whitney and Robust Rank-Order Tests," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 6(3), pages 273-297, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Ennio Bilancini & Leonardo Boncinelli & Luigi Luini, 2017. "Does Focality Depend on the Mode of Cognition? Experimental Evidence on Pure Coordination Games," Department of Economics University of Siena 771, Department of Economics, University of Siena.
    2. Merkel, Anna & Lohse, Johannes, 2016. "Is fairness intuitive? An experiment accounting for the role of subjective utility differences under time pressure," Working Papers 0627, University of Heidelberg, Department of Economics.
    3. Goeschl, Timo & Lohse, Johannes, 2018. "Cooperation in public good games. Calculated or confused?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 185-203.
    4. repec:kap:expeco:v:22:y:2019:i:1:d:10.1007_s10683-018-9566-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Marianna Belloc & Ennio Bilancini & Leonardo Boncinelli & Simone D'Alessandro, 2017. "A Social Heuristics Hypothesis for the Stag Hunt: Fast- and Slow-Thinking Hunters in the Lab," CESifo Working Paper Series 6824, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Cooperation; Intuition; Dual-Process; Public Goods Game;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles

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