Patience Predicts Cooperative Synergy: The Roles of Ingroup Bias and Reciprocity
54 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2015 Last revised: 26 May 2017
Date Written: May 26, 2017
Patience—low delay discounting—has been shown to predict cooperative behavior in environments where cooperation demands the suppression of competitive aspirations. But what about intergroup-conflict situations, where within-group cooperation is importantly motivated by competitive sentiments against other groups? 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 a group’s mean patience and the within-group cooperative synergy, defined as the group members’ performance in the intergroup-competition task relative to their performance in the individual task. A separate analysis from a follow-up social preferences task suggests that this result is not explained by a more prominent ingroup favoritism of patient individuals. Instead, apart from being more prosocial in general (toward unknown recipients), more patient individuals were more reciprocal toward their group partners (ingroup recipients). More impatient individuals, on the other hand, tended to impose strict ingroup equality with little concern for reciprocity. The success of groups of patient (vs. impatient) individuals may thus be related to their propensity to be initially cooperative and to subsequently treat group members based on reciprocal fairness instead of strict equality.
Keywords: Delay discounting, Patience, Academic performance, Cooperation, Punishment, Social preferences, Intergroup competition, Reciprocity
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