Cooperation is fundamental to the evolution of human society. We regularly observe cooperative behaviour in everyday life and in controlled experiments with anonymous people, even though standard economic models predict that they should deviate from the collective interest and act so as to maximise their own individual payoff. However, there is typically heterogeneity across subjects: some may cooperate, while others may not. Since individual factors promoting cooperation could be used by institutions to indirectly prime cooperation, this heterogeneity raises the important question of who these cooperators are. We have conducted a series of experiments to study whether benevolence, defined as a unilateral act of paying a cost to increase the welfare of someone else beyond one's own, is related to cooperation in a subsequent one-shot anonymous Prisoner's dilemma. Contrary to the predictions of the widely used inequity aversion models, we find that benevolence does exist and a large majority of people behave this way. We also find benevolence to be correlated with cooperative behaviour. Finally, we show a causal link between benevolence and cooperation: priming people to think positively about benevolent behaviour makes them significantly more cooperative than priming them to think malevolently. Thus benevolent people exist and cooperate more.

Capraro, V., Smyth, C., Mylona, K., Niblo, G. (2014). Benevolent characteristics promote cooperative behaviour among humans. PLOS ONE, 9(8) [10.1371/journal.pone.0102881].

Benevolent characteristics promote cooperative behaviour among humans

Capraro V
;
2014

Abstract

Cooperation is fundamental to the evolution of human society. We regularly observe cooperative behaviour in everyday life and in controlled experiments with anonymous people, even though standard economic models predict that they should deviate from the collective interest and act so as to maximise their own individual payoff. However, there is typically heterogeneity across subjects: some may cooperate, while others may not. Since individual factors promoting cooperation could be used by institutions to indirectly prime cooperation, this heterogeneity raises the important question of who these cooperators are. We have conducted a series of experiments to study whether benevolence, defined as a unilateral act of paying a cost to increase the welfare of someone else beyond one's own, is related to cooperation in a subsequent one-shot anonymous Prisoner's dilemma. Contrary to the predictions of the widely used inequity aversion models, we find that benevolence does exist and a large majority of people behave this way. We also find benevolence to be correlated with cooperative behaviour. Finally, we show a causal link between benevolence and cooperation: priming people to think positively about benevolent behaviour makes them significantly more cooperative than priming them to think malevolently. Thus benevolent people exist and cooperate more.
Articolo in rivista - Articolo scientifico
Altruism; Beneficence; Cooperative Behavior; Game Theory; Humans; Interpersonal Relations
English
Capraro, V., Smyth, C., Mylona, K., Niblo, G. (2014). Benevolent characteristics promote cooperative behaviour among humans. PLOS ONE, 9(8) [10.1371/journal.pone.0102881].
File in questo prodotto:
Non ci sono file associati a questo prodotto.

I documenti in IRIS sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10281/398054
Citazioni
  • Scopus 42
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? 39
Social impact