Reciprocity Outperforms Conformity to Promote Cooperation

Angelo Romano*, Daniel Balliet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Evolutionary psychologists have proposed two processes that could give rise to the pervasiveness of human cooperation observed among individuals who are not genetically related: reciprocity and conformity. We tested whether reciprocity outperformed conformity in promoting cooperation, especially when these psychological processes would promote a different cooperative or noncooperative response. To do so, across three studies, we observed participants’ cooperation with a partner after learning (a) that their partner had behaved cooperatively (or not) on several previous trials and (b) that their group members had behaved cooperatively (or not) on several previous trials with that same partner. Although we found that people both reciprocate and conform, reciprocity has a stronger influence on cooperation. Moreover, we found that conformity can be partly explained by a concern about one’s reputation—a finding that supports a reciprocity framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1490-1502
Number of pages13
JournalPsychological Science
Volume28
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017

Keywords

  • conformity
  • cooperation
  • culture
  • evolution
  • open data
  • open materials
  • reciprocity

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