Oct 4, 2012
We propose the following explanation. People develop their intuitions in the context of daily life, where cooperation is typically advantageous. This is because many important interactions are repeated, reputation is often at stake, and sanctions for good or bad behavior often exist. Therefore, there are future consequences of being selfish, and so it’s a good idea to be cooperative. Because of this, people get in the habit of being cooperative in social interactions (that is, cooperation becomes an ingrained, automatic response). People then bring these cooperative intuitions with them into situations where actually you can exploit others without getting in trouble (like in our laboratory experiments). As a result, the automatic first response is to be cooperative, following the habit from daily life. It then requires reflection to overcome this cooperative impulse and instead adapt to the unusual situation in these settings, in which cooperation is not advantageous.