New study rebuts increase in willingness to cooperate from intuitive thinking

June 5, 2013

A study that was presented in Nature last year attracted a great deal of attention when it asserted that intuition promotes cooperation. But a group of researchers in behavioral and neuroeconomics at Linköping University say that this is not true, in a new study now being published in Nature.

The first study drew the conclusion that people cooperate more if they are forced to make decisions when pressed for time. The research group (Rand et al.) let the test subjects make decisions under pressure on social dilemmas. They found that the decisions made at the time were more oriented towards . The conclusion was that decisions under pressure that build on intuition promote cooperation. It has gotten a lot of attention and aroused a great deal of discussion.

But it is not true, argues a group of researchers at several universities, including Linköping University. In a new study now being presented in Nature, they show that being forced to decide under pressure of time has no effect on the desire to cooperate.

"Our findings cast serious doubt over the idea of people as intuitively willing to cooperate," says Gustav Tinghög, part of the group for behavioural and .

How decisions are made is a major issue for research in this field. People have two decision-making systems in the : an intuitive one, and a more reflective analytical one. Both systems, however, can be rational, and they integrate with each other in various decision-making situations, Tinghög emphasises.

"Humanity's survival here on Earth is built on rationally grounded ."

When and where we choose to cooperate is an issue that especially interests . to collaborate is often tested in what are known as "social dilemmas", where the choice is between making a decision that benefits the group but is costly for the one person, or one that helps only oneself. The classical theory of Homo economicus says that in every situation, people will choose what maximises their own benefit, even if that does not contribute to everyone's best interests.

In the study by the Linköping researchers, conducted along with colleagues from the United States and Austria, 2,500 people in the three countries were asked to choose between keeping a given sum of money for themselves, or split a greater sum total among a group of four people, in which they themselves were included.

Half of the in the randomised study decided under pressure. The others were made to wait before they were allowed to respond. The study shows no difference between those who made decisions under pressure and those who were made to wait. The Linköping researchers' conclusion is that it is not true that quick, intuitively grounded decisions promote cooperation.

The study also shows that the results from the earlier study can be explained through errors in the statistical analysis.

Explore further: Can intuition resolve Christmas gift dilemmas? New research suggests it can help

More information: www.nature.com/nature/journal/ … ull/nature12194.html

Related Stories

Can intuition resolve Christmas gift dilemmas? New research suggests it can help

December 20, 2012
The clock is ticking and you still haven't decided what to get that special someone in your life for the holidays. When it comes to those last-minute gift-buying decisions for family and close friends, intuition may be the ...

Do we always make better decisions when we take more time to think?

March 28, 2013
A study led by Zachary Mainen, Director of the Champalimaud Neuroscience Programme, and published today (March 28) in the scientific journal, Neuron, reports that when rats were challenged with a series of perceptual decision ...

How patient centered are medical decisions?

May 27, 2013
A national survey sample of adults who had discussions with their physicians in the preceding two years about common medical tests, medications and procedures often did not reflect a high level of shared decision making, ...

In decision-making, it might be worth trusting your gut

December 14, 2012
Turns out the trope is true: You should trust your gut—as long as you're an expert. So says a new study from researchers at Rice University, George Mason University and Boston College.

Too much choice leads to riskier decisions, new study finds

March 25, 2013
The more choices people have, the riskier the decisions they make, according to a new study which sheds light on how we behave when faced with large amounts of information.

Recommended for you

Talking to yourself can help you control stressful emotions

July 26, 2017
The simple act of silently talking to yourself in the third person during stressful times may help you control emotions without any additional mental effort than what you would use for first-person self-talk – the way people ...

Heart rate study tests emotional impact of Shakespeare

July 26, 2017
In a world where on-screen violence has become commonplace, Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company is turning to science to discover whether the playwright can still make our hearts race more than 400 years on.

Do all people experience similar near-death-experiences?

July 26, 2017
No one really knows what happens when we die, but many people have stories to tell about what they experienced while being close to death. People who have had a near-death-experience usually report very rich and detailed ...

Risk for bipolar disorder associated with faster aging

July 26, 2017
New King's College London research suggests that people with a family history of bipolar disorder may 'age' more rapidly than those without a history of the disease.

Visual clues we use during walking and when we use them

July 25, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers with the University of Texas and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has discovered which phase of visual information processing during human walking is used most to guide the feet accurately. ...

Toddlers begin learning rules of reading, writing at very early age, study finds

July 25, 2017
Even the proudest of parents may struggle to find some semblance of meaning behind the seemingly random mish-mash of letters that often emerge from a toddler's first scribbled and scrawled attempts at putting words on paper.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.