It’s not particularly surprising that people who come from supportive and friendly environments learn intuitively to cooperate—even with strangers where there is no potential payoff—because they have often benefited from such generous behavior. People who are typically surrounded by jerks, on the other hand, learn intuitively to be selfish.
However, according to a new study of “intuition, deliberation, and the evolution of cooperation,” by Adam Bear and David G. Rand [ht: ja], if both groups of people take time to deliberate, they end up behaving like jerks.
In other words, according to the authors,
It is not reflective thought that allows people to forego their selfish impulses, but rather reflective thought that undermines the impulse to cooperate.
Clearly, there’s been a lot of reflective thought, especially by those in charge of both Main Street and Wall Street, in recent years.