Cooperating, Fast and Slow: Testing the Social Heuristics Hypothesis

31 Pages Posted: 19 May 2016

See all articles by Eirik Stromland

Eirik Stromland

University of Bergen

Sigve Tjotta

University of Bergen - Department of Economics

Gaute Torsvik

University of Bergen - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Date Written: April 2016

Abstract

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.

Keywords: cooperation, intuition, dual-process, public goods game

JEL Classification: C720, C910, C920, D030

Suggested Citation

Stromland, Eirik and Tjotta, Sigve and Torsvik, Gaute, Cooperating, Fast and Slow: Testing the Social Heuristics Hypothesis (April 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5875. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2780877

Eirik Stromland

University of Bergen ( email )

Muséplassen 1
N-5008 Bergen, +47 55 58
Norway

Sigve Tjotta

University of Bergen - Department of Economics ( email )

Fosswinckelsgt. 6
N-5007 Bergen, 5007
Norway

Gaute Torsvik (Contact Author)

University of Bergen - Department of Economics ( email )

Fosswinckelsgt. 6
N-5007 Bergen, 5007
Norway
55589225 (Phone)
55589210 (Fax)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute for Economic Research)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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