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Simulating social dilemmas: Promoting cooperative behavior through imagined group discussion

Psychology, cooperation, social

Abstract

A robust finding in social dilemmas research is that individual group members are more likely to act cooperatively if they are given the chance to discuss the dilemma with one another. The authors investigated whether imagining a group discussion may represent an effective means of increasing cooperative behavior in the absence of the opportunity for direct negotiation among decision makers. Five experiments, utilizing a range of task variants, tested this hypothesis. Participants engaged in a guided simulation of the progressive steps required to reach a cooperative consensus within a group discussion of a social dilemma. Results support the conclusion that imagined group discussion enables conscious processes that parallel those underlying the direct group discussion and is a strategy that can effectively elicit cooperative behavior. The applied potential of imagined group discussion techniques to encourage more socially responsible behavior is discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved)

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