I'm in a Hurry, I Don't Want to Know! Time Pressure Favours Self-Serving Behaviour Under Moral Ambiguity

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Johannes JARKE, University of Hamburg, Germany
Social behaviour is shaped by a constant battle waged in the evolved human brain between pro-sociality and self-interest. Which of the two sides prevails is contingent on the make-up of the decision situation: even minimal changes to its structure can sway individuals towards self-serving conduct. Science is just beginning to understand how such situational factors and cognitive processes interact to shape social outcomes. Here, we report on the results of a controlled behavioural experiment that was designed to investigate the causal effect of time pressure on the incidence of self-serving conduct, conditional on limitations of transparency that allows individuals to exploit moral ambiguity. Both situational features are ubiquitous in present-day human interactions, such as team-work, market exchange, or negotiations. We find that time pressure has no effect if decision-makers are fully informed about the consequences of their choices, but significantly increases the incidence of self-serving behaviour if avoiding information about the social impact is feasible. These results have major implications for the formation, organization, and management of human collaboration, and contribute to the understanding of the cognitive processes that shape pro-social behaviour.