The Dual-Process Approach to Human Sociality: A Review

153 Pages Posted: 27 Jun 2019 Last revised: 4 Nov 2019

Date Written: June 24, 2019


Which social decisions are intuitive? Which are deliberative? The dual-process approach to human sociality has emerged in the last decades as a vibrant and exciting area of research. Here, I review the existing literature on the cognitive basis of cooperation, altruism, honesty, positive and negative reciprocity, and (act) utilitarianism. I conclude by introducing a game-theoretical framework that organizes the majority of the empirical regularities. This framework extends Rand and colleagues’ Social Heuristics Hypothesis to any one-shot game G. The core assumption of this “General Social Heuristics Hypothesis” is that, under intuition, people play a Nash equilibrium of the “real analogue of G”, Greal , while under deliberation people play a Nash equilibrium of G. Greal differs from G along two dimensions: G is one-shot, while Greal might be iterated; the payoffs of Greal might be different from the payoffs of G, although they are ordered in (almost) the same way.

Keywords: dual-process, pro-sociality, cooperation, altruism, honesty, reciprocity, moral judgments

JEL Classification: C70, C79, C90, C91, C92, D64, D70, D71, H41

Suggested Citation

Capraro, Valerio, The Dual-Process Approach to Human Sociality: A Review (June 24, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Valerio Capraro (Contact Author)

Middlesex University ( email )

The Burroughs
London, NW4 4BT
United Kingdom

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