Intuition, Deliberation, and Cooperation: Further Meta-Analytic Evidence from 91 Experiments on Pure Cooperation
12 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 17, 2019
What is the role of intuitive versus deliberative cognitive processing in human cooperation? The Social Heuristics Hypothesis (SHH) stipulates that (i) intuition favors behaviors that are typically advantageous (i.e. long-run payoff-maximizing), and that for most people cooperation is typically advantageous due to mechanisms such as repetition, reputation, and institutions; whereas (ii) deliberation favors the behavior that is payoff-maximizing in the given decision setting. As a result, the SHH predicts that in the context of pure cooperation – where non-cooperation is strictly payoff – maximizing – promoting intuition will lead to more cooperation than promoting deliberation. In this paper, I present the largest empirical investigation of this prediction to date by meta-analyzing 91 experiments in which participants made non-hypothetical pure cooperation decisions, and reliance on intuition versus deliberation was experimentally manipulated. A random effects meta-analysis of the overall intent-to-treat effect found the predicted result, with cooperation being 3.1 percentage points higher (p < .001) in the more intuition conditions compared to the more deliberation conditions. Meta-regression revealed that the effect was significantly larger when using emotion-inductions compared to other manipulation types, but that there was no significant difference in effect sizes across the other manipulations (time pressure, cognitive load, recall-inductions, and depletion). Critically, the meta-analytic effect remained significantly positive when excluding emotion-induction experiments, with cooperation being 1.6 percentage points higher (p = .009) in the more intuition conditions compared to the more deliberation conditions. Thus, the current body of evidence supports this key prediction of the SHH. I conclude by recommending that future work in this area should focus on developing new paradigms that avoid the issues with non-compliance and non-comprehension that plague existing studies.
Keywords: cooperation, dual process, intuition
JEL Classification: C70, C72, C79, C90, C92, D03, D63, D64, D69, D70, D79, D83, H41
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