Cooperation, Response Time, and Social Value Orientation: A Meta-Analysis

AbstractRecent research at the cross between cognitive and social sciences is investigating the cognitive mechanisms behind cooperative decisions. One debated question is whether cooperative decisions are made faster than non-cooperative ones. Yet empirical evidence is still mixed. In this paper we explore the implications of individual heterogeneity in social value orientation for the effect of response time on cooperation. We conduct a meta-analysis of available experimental studies (n=8; treatments=16; 5,232 subjects). We report two main results: (i) the relation between response time and cooperation is moderated by social value orientation, such that it is positive for individualist subjects and negative for prosocial subjects; (ii) the relation between response time and cooperation is partly mediated by extremity of choice. These results suggest that highly prosocial subjects are fast to cooperate, highly individualist subjects are fast to defect, and subjects with weaker preferences make slower and less extreme decisions. We explain these results in terms of decision-conflict theory.

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