Patience predicts cooperative synergy: the roles of ingroup bias and reciprocity
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Time preferencesDelay discountingIntergroup conflictSocial preferencesCooperationStrong reciprocity
Espín, A., Correa, M., & Ruiz-Villaverde, A. (2019). Patience predicts cooperative synergy: the roles of ingroup bias and reciprocity. Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 83, 101465
Patience—low delay discounting—has been shown to predict cooperative behavior in environments where cooperation conflicts with competitive aspirations. Indeed, impatience seems to be associated to a greater concern for the latter (i.e., for the individual’s relative standing). But what about intergroup-competition situations, where competitive sentiments against outgroups can trigger ingroup cooperation? We analyze the connection between delay discounting and performance in two problem-solving tasks with either individual or intergroup-competition incentives. We find a positive relationship between the mean patience of the members of a group (both when using long-term discounting and short-term discounting, also known as present bias) and the within-group cooperative synergy during intergroup competition. Further exploratory analyses based on a follow-up social preferences task suggest that, for long-term discounting, this result may be explained by patient (vs. impatient) individuals’ propensity to be initially cooperative and to subsequently treat group members based on reciprocal fairness instead of strict equality. For short-term discounting, or present bias, our exploratory analyses do not yield any significant result, meaning that we are unable to provide a social-preferences-based explanation to the higher synergy observed in groups with less present biased individuals.