Better together: 14-month-old infants expect agents to cooperate even when it’s costly
Curioni, Arianna (2022), Better together: 14-month-old infants expect agents to cooperate even when it’s costly, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gqnk98smt
Humans engage in cooperative activities from early on and the breadth of human cooperation is unparalleled. Human preference for cooperation might reflect cognitive and motivational mechanisms that reinforce engagement in cooperative activities. We applied the naive utility calculus model to cooperation and investigated if 14-month-old infants expect agents to prefer cooperative over individual goal achievement. Two groups of infants saw videos of agents facing a choice between two actions that led to identical rewards but differed in the individual costs. First, we established that infants expect agents to make instrumentally rational choices (prefer less costly individual actions). We then demonstrated that when one of the action alternatives is cooperative, infants expected agents to choose cooperation over individual action, despite the cooperative action demanding more effort from each agent to achieve the same outcome. This supports the proposal that infants may ascribe additional rewards to cooperative actions that go beyond the observable utility of instrumental actions.