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Do not prime hawks with doves : the impact of dispositions and situation-specific features on the emergence of cooperative behavior in mixed-motive situations.

By D Smeesters, Luk Warlop, Eddy Van Avermaet and O Corneille


In four experiments, we examined the impact of the nature and consistency of people's social value orientations on the emergence of cooperative behavior in conditions of neutral, morality or might priming. In line with Van Lange (2000), we expected social value orientations to have a greater impact in ambiguous (neutral priming) than in unambiguous (morality and might priming) situations. We also expected the later moderation to be higher among participants low in consistency (see also Hertel and Fiedler, 1998). Overall, participants' behavior shifted in prime-consistent ways. However, cooperation was reduced among high consistent pro-selfs primed with morality concepts. Experiments 2-4 replicate and generalize these findings, and reveal that high consistent pro-selfs exploited partners believed to be cooperative as a result of morality priming. Implications of these results are discussed in the wider context of interdependence theory, and in the context of automatic behavior effects.

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