(E. Bilancini, L. Boncinelli and T. Celadin)

We ran two experimental studies where we explore the role of altruism and reciprocity in the online one-shot public good game and the extent to which they depend on cognition. In the first study we ran an experiment to see whether the disposition to donate (altruism and prosociality according to the Social Value Orientation scale, Murphy et al., 2011) and the disposition to reciprocate (disposition to be a conditional cooperator measured with strategy method, Fischbacher et al., 2012) explain contribution levels in the one-shot public goods game in an online setting. In the second study, we run a similar online experiment where we manipulate cognition by means of time pressure (to induce less deliberative decisions) and motivated delay (to induce more deliberative decisions). Overall, we find that: (i) the disposition to donate positively affects contributions and this effect is not substantially altered by time pressure and motivated delay; (ii) the disposition to reciprocate predicts contributions but only under motivated delay. Our experimental evidence suggests that in an online setting altruism is a source of explanation of contributions, while reciprocity is such only if a deliberative mode of cognition is fostered as the result of the motivated delay treatment.

Several scholars in the last decade have explored whether cooperation is intuitive or it requires deliberation. Here we study whether time pressure (where decision time is costly to experimental subjects) and motivated delay (where experimental subjects are required to write a motivation for their decisions) impact contributions to a one-shot public goods game and social norms associated to it, in particular descriptive and injunctive norms. We find that in the motivated delay group, relatively to the time pressure group, (i) contributions are higher, (ii) beliefs about others’ contributions (intended as a proxy for the descriptive norm) are higher, (iii) evaluations of the social appropriateness of contribution levels (intended as a proxy for the injunctive norm) are more extreme. We conclude that cognition, as affected by the switch from time pressure to motivated delay, impacts both cooperation and social norms in the public goods game.