Review of Behavioral Economics > Vol 4 > Issue 1

Cognitive Load and Cooperation

Felix Døssing, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Marco Piovesan, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, Erik Wengström, Lund University, Sweden and University of Copenhagen, Denmark,
Suggested Citation
Felix Døssing, Marco Piovesan and Erik Wengström (2017), "Cognitive Load and Cooperation", Review of Behavioral Economics: Vol. 4: No. 1, pp 69-81.

Publication Date: 11 Apr 2017
© 2017 F. Døssing, M. Piovesan and E. Wengström
JEL Codes: C70C90D03
Public goodsCooperationCognitive loadExperiment


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In this article:
1. Introduction 
2. Materials and Methods 
3. Results 
4. Discussion 


We study the effect of intuitive and reflective processes on cooperation using cognitive load. Compared with time constraint, which has been used in the previous literature, cognitive load is a more direct way to block reflective processes, and thus a more suitable way to study the link between intuition and cooperation. Using a repeated public goods game, we study the effect of different levels of cognitive load on contributions. We show that a higher cognitive load increases the initial level of cooperation. In particular, subjects are significantly less likely to fully free ride under high cognitive load.