Recent paper on neural traits of distinct behavioral types in group-based cooperation

Baumgartner, T.*, Dahinden, F.M.*, Gianotti, L.R.R., Knoch, D. (* shared first co-authorship)

Contributing to and maintaining public goods are important for a functioning society. In reality, however, we see large variations in contribution behavior. While some individuals are not cooperative, others are highly so. Still others cooperate only to the extent they believe others will. Although these distinct behavioral types clearly have a divergent social impact, the sources of heterogeneity are poorly understood. We used source‐localized resting electroencephalography in combination with a model‐free clustering approach to participants' behavior in the Public Goods Game to explain heterogeneity. Findings revealed that compared to noncooperators, both conditional cooperators and unconditional cooperators are characterized by higher baseline activation in the right temporo‐parietal junction, an area involved in social cognition. Interestingly, conditional cooperators were further characterized by higher baseline activation in the left lateral prefrontal cortex, an area involved in behavioral control. Our findings suggest that conditional cooperators' better capacities for behavioral control enable them to control their propensity to cooperate and thus to minimize the risk of exploitation by noncooperators.

Link to article.