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In line with this view, a recent experiment has shown that time pressure decreases cooperation among subjects with high cognitive abilities.
Taking these observations into account, one should expect that automatic reactions in one-shot anonymous interactions be self-regarding, rather than cooperative.
This view is in fact consistent with Kohlberg’s rationalist approach, which assumes that the application of internalized rules and norms happens only at the second, conventional, level of reasoning, which requires a non-zero amount of cognitive effort needed to overcome the primal and egoistic impulse which, according to Kohlberg, characterizes the first, pre-conventional, level of reasoning.
The second one is that cooperation in one-shot interactions may also emerge from the application of abstract ethical principles, such as the Golden Rule-treat others as you would like others treat you-which encapsulates the essence of cooperative behavior and is “found in some form in almost every ethical tradition”, abstract ethical principles are applied only at the third, post-conventional, level of reasoning, requiring a high amount of cognitive resources.
Over recent years, there has been increasing interest in studying cooperation in one-shot anonymous interactions from a dual-process perspective.
Dual-process theories posit that human decisions result from the interaction between two cognitive systems, one that is quick, automatic, and intuitive, named System 1, and one that is slow, controlled, and deliberative, named System 2.
These studies confirm that promoting intuition versus reflection increases cooperative choices in one-shot anonymous interactions, but only among naïve subjects with high levels of interpersonal trust in the setting where they live.
While these results are in line with (and, in fact, inspired) the Social Heuristics Hypothesis, they do not contradict our hypothesis, since light time pressure and conceptual priming of intuition are not powerful enough to detect automatic and effortless responses.
There are in fact two (related) reasons for predicting a moderating role of experience.But, if a subject is already experienced with our experimental paradigm, she or he may have developed internal heuristics, which can be accessed at zero cognitive effort, because they are shaped within the same context.Summarizing, in this work we wish to test the following hypothesis. Automatic responses in one-shot anonymous cooperation games are self-interested, particularly among subjects with no previous experience in experimental games involving cooperation with an anonymous stranger.Thus, on the one hand, the SHH predicts that people may internalize cooperative heuristics in their everyday life, and bring them as intuitive strategies in the new and atypical situation of a one-shot anonymous laboratory experiments.But, on the other hand, the SHH also predicts that subjects, after deliberation, override their heuristics and understand that cooperating in one-shot anonymous interactions is not optimal, because no direct or indirect rewards are at play.
Consistent with the latter hypothesis, we report two experiments demonstrating that spontaneous reactions in one-shot anonymous interactions tend to be egoistic.