The Collective Benefits of Feeling Good and Letting Go: Positive Emotion and (Dis)Inhibition Interact to Predict Cooperative Behavior
PLoS ONE, 10(1), e0117426. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0117426
16 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2014 Last revised: 15 Mar 2015
Date Written: November 26, 2014
Cooperation is central to human existence, forming the bedrock of everyday social relationships and larger societal structures. Thus, understanding the psychological underpinnings of cooperation is of both scientific and practical importance. Recent work using a dual-process framework suggests that intuitive processing can promote cooperation while deliberative processing can undermine it. Here we add to this line of research by more specifically identifying deliberative and intuitive processes that affect cooperation. To do so, we applied automated text analysis using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software to investigate the association between behavior in one-shot anonymous economic cooperation games and the presence inhibition (a deliberative process) and positive emotion (an intuitive process) in free-response narratives written after (Study 1, N=4,218) or during (Study 2, N=236) the decision-making process. Consistent with previous results, across both studies inhibition predicted reduced cooperation while positive emotion predicted increased cooperation (even when controlling for negative emotion). Importantly, there was a significant interaction between positive emotion and inhibition, such that the most cooperative individuals had high positive emotion and low inhibition. This suggests that inhibition (i.e., reflective or deliberative processing) may undermine cooperative behavior by suppressing the prosocial effects of positive emotion.
Keywords: cooperation, altruism, emotion, inhibition, dual process, deliberation
JEL Classification: C70, C79, C90, C91, C92, D64, D70, D71, H41
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