Yuhao Xu, Neuroscience and Economics (Honors)

Intuitive Cooperation: Automaticity of Cooperation in Repeat Public Goods Games

The nature of human cooperation is a controversial topic. Counter to the assumption that cooperative behavior is reliant on slow, deliberative processes, recent findings have highlighted the hypothesis that cooperation is more automatic and intuitive. To study cooperation, researchers have relied on one-shot economic games, such as the Public Goods Game (PGG), wherein four players donate anonymously and independently to a public fund of which they have equal shares. Using the PGG, we studied cooperation (a) over multiple rounds, (b) under different time constraints, and (c) with different financial consequences. Results showed that even when playing multiple rounds, participants took less time when donating more (i.e., when cooperating) and this temporal discrepancy increased when financial consequences were more extreme, suggesting that cooperation may be a more automatic, intuitive process than originally thought.