Quick to be selfish or quick to be kind? Response time asymmetries in social decision making
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Series/Report no.:2015 Richard J. and Martha D. Denman Undergraduate Research Forum. 20th
Dual-process theories classify a fast, automatic “System I” and a deliberative, controlled “System 2” as distinct mechanisms driving human behavior. Several recent studies have used a classic experimental economics scenario, the public goods game (PGG), to link these systems with participants’ tendency to act cooperatively. This research attempts to measure patterns of intuition and reflection by tracking an individual’s decision time when donating to a common pool. These donations are multiplied by the experimenter and then redistributed equally among the group. Some authors find that cooperative participants make fast decisions, arguing that cooperation is thus intuitive. Meanwhile, other authors find the opposite correlation, claiming that selfishness is intuitive. Our analysis critiques both views by offering an alternative explanation, which is that response time results are driven by the cost of being cooperative. Here we test this hypothesis using data collected from a series of publications on the PGG. These findings provide evidence for our “strength of preference” hypothesis, namely that cooperation is fast when it is low cost and attractive, while cooperation is slow when it is high cost and unattractive. Therefore, we conclude that fast decision times can indicate individual preferences for varying donation efficiencies. These results offer a coherent story to a large body of seemingly incoherent findings.
Social and Behavioral Sciences: 1st Place (The Ohio State University Denman Undergraduate Research Forum)
Academic Major: Neuroscience
Research Scholar Award; Ohio State University